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Integrins: players in cancer progression and targets in cancer therapy

Sun, Cui-Cuia; Qu, Xian-Juna,b; Gao, Zu-Huab,c,d

doi: 10.1097/CAD.0000000000000145

Integrins are a large family of cell surface receptors that bind extracellular matrix proteins. The interaction of integrins with extracellular matrix activates a number of intracellular signaling pathways involved in cell proliferation, differentiation, motility, and other essential cell functions. Integrins are critically important to both health and disease. In this review, we first describe the structure, functions, and signaling characteristics of integrins. We then discuss the roles of integrins in cancer progression. Finally, we recapitulate the laboratory and clinical efforts of targeting integrins as effective means of cancer therapy and diagnosis. This comprehensive review could help scientists and clinicians gain a complete understanding of integrins. It could also contribute toward the development of new drugs, new methods of diagnostics, and new treatment of cancers to benefit the patients in clinical practice.

aDepartment of Pharmacology, Key Laboratory of Chemical Biology, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Shandong University, Jinan

bDepartment of Pharmacology, School of Chemical Biology and Pharmaceutical Sciences

cDepartment of Pathology, Beijing You An Hospital, Capital Medical University, Beijing, China

dDepartment of Pathology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Correspondence to Zu-Hua Gao, MD, PhD, Department of Pathology, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada, H3A 2B4 Tel: +1 514 398 5599; fax: +1 514 398 3465; e-mail:

Received January 24, 2014

Accepted June 2, 2014

© 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins