Fast growing malignant cancers represent a major therapeutic challenge. Basic cancer research has concentrated efforts to determine the mechanisms underlying cancer initiation and progression and reveal candidate targets for future therapeutic treatment of cancer patients. With known roles in fundamental processes required for proper development and function of the nervous system, L1-CAMs have been recently identified as key players in cancer biology. In particular L1 has been implicated in cancer invasiveness and metastasis, and has been pursued as a powerful prognostic factor, indicating poor outcome for patients. Interestingly, L1 has been shown to be important for the survival of cancer stem cells, which are thought to be the source of cancer recurrence. The newly recognized roles for L1CAMs in cancer prompt a search for alternative therapeutic approaches. Despite the promising advances in cancer basic research, a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms dictating L1-mediated signaling is needed for the development of effective therapeutic treatment for cancer patients.
An erratum to this article can be found at: http://www.landesbioscience.com/journals/celladhesion/article/13403