Neuropilins controlling cancer therapy responsiveness

Virginia Napolitano, Luca Tamagnone

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Neuropilins (NRPs) are cell surface glycoproteins, acting as co-receptors for secreted Semaphorins (SEMAs) and for members of the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) family; they have been initially implicated in axon guidance and angiogenesis regulation, and more recently in cancer progression. In addition, NRPs have been shown to control many other fundamental signaling pathways, especially mediated by tyrosine kinase receptors (RTKs) of growth factors, such as HGF (hepatocyte growth factor), PDGF (platelet derived growth factor) and EGF (epidermal growth factor). This enables NRPs to control a range of pivotal mechanisms in the cancer context, from tumor cell proliferation and metastatic dissemination, to tumor angiogenesis and immune escape. Moreover, cancer treatment failures due to resistance to innovative oncogene-targeted drugs is typically associated with the activity of alternative RTK-dependent pathways; and neuropilins’ capacity to control oncogenic signaling cascades supports the hypothesis that they could elicit such mechanisms in cancer cells, in order to escape cytotoxic stress and therapeutic attacks. Intriguingly, several studies have recently assayed the impact of NRPs inhibition in combination with diverse anti-cancer drugs. In this minireview, we will discuss the state-of-art about the relevance of NRPs as potential predictive biomarkers of drug response, and the rationale to target these proteins in combination with other anticancer therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2049
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2 2019


  • Cancer
  • Chemotherapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Neuropilin
  • Radiotherapy
  • Resistance
  • Target therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry

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