, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 11-22

Cell adhesion molecules of the immunoglobulin supergene family and their role in malignant transformation and progression to metastatic disease

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Cell adhesion molecules (CAMs) of the immunoglobulin supergene family may play important roles in tumorigenesis and the development of metastatic disease. In a variety of human malignancies, tumor progression has been observed to be associated with changes in CAM expression. An early event in colorectal tumorigenesis appears to be the down regulation of a normally expressed CAM, DCC. Over-expression of a second CAM, carcinoembryonic antigen, is associated with colorectal tumors which have a high risk for metastasis development. Several tumors, including Wilms tumors and neuroblastoma, have been found to express a developmentally regulated form of NCAM which inhibits a variety of cell-cell interactions. Malignant cells not only show aberrations in the expression of their CAMS and thus their normal cell-cell interactions, but establish new adhesive interactions. The development of metastatic potential in cutaneous melanoma is associated with the de novo expression of two CAMs, one of which is ICAM-1, a molecule mediating adhesion between the tumor cells and leukocytes.