Nephronectin as a matrix effector in cancer
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionCancers. 2021, 13:959 (5), 1-13. 10.3390/cancers13050959
The extracellular matrix protein nephronectin plays an important regulatory role during embryonic development, controlling renal organogenesis through integrin α8β1 association. Nephronectin has three main domains: five N-terminal epidermal growth factor-like domains, a linker region harbouring two integrin-binding motifs (RGD and LFEIFEIER), and a C-terminal MAM domain. In this review, we look into the domain-related functions of nephronectin, and tissue distribution and expression. During the last two decades it has become evident that nephronectin also plays a role during cancer progression and in particular metastasis. Nephronectin is overexpressed in both human and mouse breast cancer compared to normal breast tissue where the protein is absent. Cancer cells expressing elevated levels of nephronectin acquire increased ability to colonise distant organs. In particular, the enhancer-motif (LFEIFEIER) which is specific to the integrin α8β1 association induces viability via p38 MAPK and plays a role in colonization. Integrins have long been desired as therapeutic targets, where low efficiency and receptor redundancy have been major issues. Based on the summarised publications, the enhancer-motif of nephronectin could present a novel therapeutic target.