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Amino Acids. 2013 Jan;44(1):25-32.

Transglutaminases: key regulators of cancer metastasis.

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Department of Biology, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Via della Ricerca Scientifica, 00133 Rome, Italy.


The ability to metastasize represents the most important characteristic of malignant tumors. The biological details of the metastatic process remain somewhat unknown, due to difficulties in studying tumor cell behaviour with high spatial and temporal resolution in vivo. Several lines of evidence involve transglutaminases (TGs) in the key stages of tumor progression cascade, even though the molecular mechanisms remain controversial. TG expression and activity display a different role in the primary tumor or in metastatic cells. In fact, TG expression is low in the primary tumor mass, but augmented when cells acquire the metastatic phenotype. Nevertheless, in other cases, the use of inducers of TG transamidating activity seems to contrast tumor cell plasticity, migration and invasion. In the following review, the function of TGs in cancer cell migration into the extracellular matrix, adhesion to the capillary endothelium and its basement membrane, invasion and angiogenesis is discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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