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Cancer Lett. 2012 Dec 28;325(2):132-8. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2012.06.019. Epub 2012 Jul 7.

The dual role of fibulins in tumorigenesis.

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Departamento de Biología Funcional, Area de Fisiología, Facultad de Medicina, Instituto Universitario de Oncología del Principado de Asturias, Universidad de Oviedo, Spain.


The human fibulin family consists of seven complex extracellular glycoproteins originally characterized as components of elastic fibers in connective tissue. However, beyond its structural role, fibulins are involved in complex biological processes such as cell adhesion, migration or proliferation. Indeed, they have proved to be essential elements in normal physiology, as shown by mouse models lacking these proteins, that evidence several developmental abnormalities and pathological features. Their relevance is also apparent in tumorigenesis, an aspect that has started to be intensely studied. Distinct fibulins are expressed in both tumor and stromal cells and are subjected to multiple expression regulations with either anti or pro-tumor effects. The mechanistic insights that underlie these observations are now commencing to emerge, portraying these proteins as very versatile and active constituents of connective tissue. The aim of this review is to highlight the most relevant connections between fibulins and cancer.

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