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Mol Cancer Res. 2012 Apr;10(4):485-93. doi: 10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-11-0222. Epub 2012 Mar 27.

Biological functions of cytokeratin 18 in cancer.

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Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Shanghai Jiao-Tong University School of Medicine, Renji Hospital, Shanghai Institute of Digestive Disease, Shanghai, China.


The structural proteins cytokeratin 18 (CK18) and its coexpressed complementary partner CK8 are expressed in a variety of adult epithelial organs and may play a role in carcinogenesis. In this study, we focused on the biological functions of CK18, which is thought to modulate intracellular signaling and operates in conjunction with various related proteins. CK18 may affect carcinogenesis through several signaling pathways, including the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt, Wnt, and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathways. CK18 acts as an identical target of Akt in the PI3K/Akt pathway and of ERK1/2 in the ERK MAPK pathway, and regulation of CK18 by Wnt is involved in Akt activation. Finally, we discuss the importance of gaining a more complete understanding of the expression of CK18 during carcinogenesis, and suggest potential clinical applications of that understanding.

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