Table of Contents Author Guidelines Submit a Manuscript
Journal of Oncology
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 351089, 17 pages
Review Article

Matricellular Proteins: A Sticky Affair with Cancers

School of Biological Sciences, Nanyang Technological University, 60 Nanyang Drive, Singapore 637551

Received 1 June 2011; Revised 2 November 2011; Accepted 2 November 2011

Academic Editor: Dominic Fan

Copyright © 2012 Han Chung Chong et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The multistep process of metastasis is a major hallmark of cancer progression involving the cointeraction and coevolution of the tumor and its microenvironment. In the tumor microenvironment, tumor cells and the surrounding stromal cells aberrantly secrete matricellular proteins, which are a family of nonstructural proteins in the extracellular matrix (ECM) that exert regulatory roles via a variety of molecular mechanisms. Matricellular proteins provide signals that support tumorigenic activities characteristic of the metastastic cascade such as epithelial-to-mesenchymal (EMT) transition, angiogenesis, tumor cell motility, proliferation, invasion, evasion from immune surveillance, and survival of anoikis. Herein, we review the current understanding of the following matricellular proteins and highlight their pivotal and multifacted roles in metastatic progression: angiopoietin-like protein 4 (ANGPTL4), CCN family members cysteine-rich angiogenic inducer 61 (Cyr61/CCN1) and CCN6, osteopontin (OPN), secreted protein acidic and rich in cysteine (SPARC), tenascin C (TNC), and thrombospondin-1 and -2 (TSP1, TSP2). Insights into the signaling mechanisms resulting from the interaction of these matricellular proteins and their respective molecular partner(s), as well as their subsequent contribution to tumor metastasis, are discussed. In addition, emerging evidences of their promising potential as therapeutic options and/or targets in the treatment of cancer are also highlighted.