Metastasis involves the migration of cancer cells from a primary tumor to invade and establish secondary tumors in distant organs, and it is the main cause for cancer-related deaths. Currently, the conventional cytostatic drugs target the proliferation of malignant cells, being ineffective in metastatic disease. This highlights the need to find new anti-metastatic drugs. Toxins isolated from snake venoms are a natural source of potentially useful molecular scaffolds to obtain agents with anti-migratory and anti-invasive effects in cancer cells. While there is greater evidence concerning the mechanisms of cell death induction of several snake toxin classes on cancer cells; only a reduced number of toxin classes have been reported on (i.e., disintegrins/disintegrin-like proteins, C-type lectin-like proteins, C-type lectins, serinproteases, cardiotoxins, snake venom cystatins) as inhibitors of adhesion, migration, and invasion of cancer cells. Here, we discuss the anti-metastatic mechanisms of snake toxins, distinguishing three targets, which involve (1) inhibition of extracellular matrix components-dependent adhesion and migration, (2) inhibition of epithelial-mesenchymal transition, and (3) inhibition of migration by alterations in the actin/cytoskeleton network.
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