Roles of fascin in human carcinoma motility and signaling: prospects for a novel biomarker?

Int J Biochem Cell Biol. 2005 Sep;37(9):1787-804. doi: 10.1016/j.biocel.2005.05.004.


Fascin is a globular actin cross-linking protein that has a major function in forming parallel actin bundles in cell protrusions that are key specialisations of the plasma membrane for environmental guidance and cell migration. Fascin is widely expressed in mesenchymal tissues and the nervous system and is low or absent in adult epithelia. Recent data from a number of laboratories have highlighted that fascin is up-regulated in many human carcinomas and, in individual tissues, correlates with the clinical aggressiveness of tumours and poor patient survival. In cell culture, over-expression or depletion of fascin modulates cell migration and alters cytoskeletal organisation. The identification of biomarkers to provide more effective early diagnosis of potentially aggressive tumours, or identify tumours susceptible to targeted therapies, is an important goal in clinical research. Here, we discuss the evidence that fascin is upregulated in carcinomas, its contributions to carcinoma cell behaviour and its potential as a candidate novel biomarker or therapeutic target.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / metabolism*
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Adenocarcinoma / therapy
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Carrier Proteins / physiology*
  • Cell Movement / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Microfilament Proteins / physiology*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Microfilament Proteins
  • fascin