The cell surface molecule CD99 has gained interest because of its involvement in regulating cell differentiation and adhesion/migration of immune and tumor cells. However, the molecule plays an intriguing and dual role in different cell types. In particular, it acts as a requirement for cell malignancy or as an oncosuppressor in tumors. In addition, the gene encodes for two different isoforms, which also act in opposition inside the same cell. This review highlights key studies focusing on the dual role of CD99 and its isoforms and discusses major critical issues, challenges, and strategies for overcoming those challenges. The review specifically underscores the properties that make the molecule an attractive therapeutic target and identifies new relationships and areas of study that may be exploited. The elucidation of the spatial and temporal control of the expression of CD99 in normal and tumor cells is required to obtain a full appreciation of this molecule and its signaling.
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