Mucins in the pathogenesis of breast cancer: Implications in diagnosis, prognosis and therapy

Partha Mukhopadhyay, Subhankar Chakraborty, Moorthy P. Ponnusamy, Imayavaramban Lakshmanan, Maneesh Jain, Surinder K. Batra

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

98 Scopus citations


Mucins are high molecular weight, multifunctional glycoproteins comprised of two structural classes-the large transmembrane mucins and the gel-forming or secreted mucins. The primary function of mucins is to protect and lubricate the luminal surfaces of epithelium-lined ducts in the human body. Recent studies have identified a differential expression of both membrane bound (MUC1, MUC4 and MUC16) and secreted mucins (MUC2, MUC5AC, MUC5B and MUC6) in breast cancer tissues when compared with the non-neoplastic breast tissues. Functional studies have also uncovered many unique roles of mucins during the progression of breast cancer, which include modulation in proliferative, invasive and metastatic potential of tumor cells. Mucins function through many unique domains that can form complex association with various signaling molecules including growth factor receptors and intercellular adhesion molecules. While there is growing information about mucins in various malignancies including breast cancer, no focused review is there on the expression and functional roles of mucins in breast cancer. In this present review, we have discussed the differential expression and functional roles of mucins in breast cancer. The potential of mucins as diagnostic and prognostic markers and as therapeutic targets in breast cancer have also been discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)224-240
Number of pages17
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Reviews on Cancer
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2011



  • Apoptosis
  • Breast cancer
  • Cancer
  • Cell survival
  • MUC1 (DF3)
  • MUC16 (CA125)
  • MUC4
  • Mucins
  • Polymorphic epithelial mucins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research

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