Nephronectin as a Matrix Effector in Cancer
Department of Medical Biology, Faculty of Health Sciences, UiT—The Arctic University of Norway, 9037 Tromsø, Norway
Department of Clinical and Molecular Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), 7491 Trondheim, Norway
Cancer Clinic, St. Olavs Hospital HF, 7006 Trondheim, Norway
The Public Dental Health Service Competence Center of Northern Norway, 9271 Tromsø, Norway
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Nikos Karamanos and Zoi Piperigkou
Received: 31 January 2021 / Revised: 21 February 2021 / Accepted: 22 February 2021 / Published: 25 February 2021
The extracellular matrix provides an important scaffold for cells and tissues of multicellular organisms. The scaffold not only provides a secure anchorage point, but also functions as a reservoir for signalling molecules, sequestered and released when necessary. A dysregulated extracellular matrix may therefore modulate cellular behaviour, as seen during cancer progression. The extracellular matrix protein nephronectin was discovered two decades ago and found to regulate important embryonic developmental processes. Loss of either nephronectin or its receptor, integrin α8β1, leads to underdeveloped kidneys. Recent findings show that nephronectin is also dysregulated in breast cancer and plays a role in promoting metastasis. To enable therapeutic intervention, it is important to fully understand the role of nephronectin and its receptors in cancer progression. In this review, we summarise the literature on nephronectin, analyse the structure and domain-related functions of nephronectin and link these functions to potential roles in cancer progression.