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Cell adhesion and signal transduction in cancer

Authors

  • W. Birchmeier

Journal

  • EMBO Reports

Citation

  • EMBO Rep 6 (5): 413-417

Abstract

  • The Madrid meeting reported clear progress in this field. The merging of cell adhesion with concomitant signal transduction has now become accepted knowledge, and the importance of cadherins and catenins in the various stages of tumour formation and progression has also been firmly established. Breakthroughs in the field have often come unexpectedly, such as the discovery of cadherins by mouse embryologists, the identification of β-catenin/armadillo by Drosophila developmental biologists and the uncovering of the {beta}-catenin/APC connection by cancer biologists. Moreover, scientists in this field have worked with organisms ranging from Hydra, which harbours an impressive collection of Wnt-pathway genes (Kusserow et al, 2005), to humans in which several thousands of tumours have been analyzed for {beta}-catenin mutations (Bienz & Clevers, 2000; Polakis, 2000). The Madrid meeting clearly indicated that the results of this basic science are ready to be applied to human cancer patients and several different approaches are now being tested. Certainly, there has never been a feeling of loneliness in the field during the past 20 years, but rather a sense of healthy competition. In the future, we expect the generation and testing of various known, and as yet unknown, molecules that interfere with Wnt signalling and cancer progression (for example, see Dihlmann & von Knebel-Doeberitz, 2005). E-cadherin gene repressors might also provide new targets for anti-invasive therapy. Moreover, target genes of EMT in human cancers might be suitable as new anticancer targets. Finally, the discovery of crosstalk between the cadherin/catenin system and other signalling pathways and adhesion systems might yield new targets for validation in cancer diagnosis and therapy.


DOI

doi:10.1038/sj.embor.7400408