Membrane-Anchored Serine Proteases and Protease-Activated Receptor-2-Mediated Signaling: Co-Conspirators in Cancer Progression.


Center for Vascular and Inflammatory Diseases, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland. [Email]


Pericellular proteolysis provides a significant advantage to developing tumors through the ability to remodel the extracellular matrix, promote cell invasion and migration, and facilitate angiogenesis. Recent advances demonstrate that pericellular proteases can also communicate directly to cells by activation of a unique group of transmembrane G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCR) known as protease-activated receptors (PAR). In this review, we discuss the specific roles of one of four mammalian PARs, namely PAR-2, which is overexpressed in advanced stage tumors and is activated by trypsin-like serine proteases that are highly expressed or otherwise dysregulated in many cancers. We highlight recent insights into the ability of different protease agonists to bias PAR-2 signaling and the newly emerging evidence for an interplay between PAR-2 and membrane-anchored serine proteases, which may co-conspire to promote tumor progression and metastasis. Interfering with these pathways might provide unique opportunities for the development of new mechanism-based strategies for the treatment of advanced and metastatic cancers.