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Open Access Molecular Mechanisms Driving Cholangiocarcinoma Invasiveness: An Overview

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The acquisition of invasive functions by tumor cells is a first and crucial step toward the development of metastasis, which nowadays represents the main cause of cancer-related death. Cholangiocarcinoma (CCA), a primary liver cancer originating from the biliary epithelium, typically develops intrahepatic or lymph node metastases at early stages, thus preventing the majority of patients from undergoing curative treatments, consistent with their very poor prognosis. As in most carcinomas, CCA cells gradually adopt a motile, mesenchymal-like phenotype, enabling them to cross the basement membrane, detach from the primary tumor, and invade the surrounding stroma. Unfortunately, little is known about the molecular mechanisms that synergistically orchestrate this proinvasive phenotypic switch. Autocrine and paracrine signals (cyto/chemokines, growth factors, and morphogens) permeating the tumor microenvironment undoubtedly play a prominent role in this context. Moreover, a number of recently identified signaling systems are currently drawing attention as putative mechanistic determinants of CCA cell invasion. They encompass transcription factors, protein kinases and phosphatases, ubiquitin ligases, adaptor proteins, and miRNAs, whose aberrant expression may result from either stochastic mutations or the abnormal activation of upstream pro-oncogenic pathways. Herein we sought to summarize the most relevant molecules in this field and to discuss their mechanism of action and potential prognostic relevance in CCA. Hopefully, a deeper knowledge of the molecular determinants of CCA invasiveness will help to identify clinically useful biomarkers and novel druggable targets, with the ultimate goal to develop innovative approaches to the management of this devastating malignancy.
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Keywords: Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT); Liver cancer; Metastasis; S100A4; Tumor reactive stroma

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Medicine and Surgery, University of Milan-Bicocca, Monza, Italy 2: International Center for Digestive Health, University of Milan-Bicocca, Monza, Italy

Publication date: March 21, 2018

This article was made available online on October 25, 2017 as a Fast Track article with title: "Molecular mechanisms driving cholangiocarcinoma invasiveness: an overview".

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  • Gene Expression The Journal of Liver Research will publish articles in all aspects of hepatology. Hepatology, as a research discipline, has seen unprecedented growth especially in the cellular and molecular mechanisms of hepatic health and disease, which continues to have a major impact on understanding liver development, stem cells, carcinogenesis, tissue engineering, injury, repair, regeneration, immunology, metabolism, fibrosis, and transplantation. Continued research and improved understanding in these areas will have a meaningful impact on liver disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. The existing journal Gene Expression has expanded its focus to become Gene Expression The Journal of Liver Research to meet this growing demand. In its revised and expanded scope, the journal will publish high-impact original articles, reviews, short but complete articles, and special articles (editorials, commentaries, opinions) on all aspects of hepatology, making it a unique and invaluable resource for readers interested in this field. The expanded team, led by an Editor-in-Chief who is uniquely qualified and a renowned expert, along with a dynamic and functional editorial board, is determined to make this a premier journal in the field of hepatology.

    From Volume 16, Gene Expression The Journal of Liver Research is Open Access under the terms of the Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND license.

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