L1 cell adhesion molecule (L1CAM) in invasive tumors

Cancer Lett. 2009 Sep 18;282(2):137-45. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2008.12.021. Epub 2009 Jan 13.


The L1 cell adhesion molecule (L1CAM) belongs to the immunoglobulin superfamily and was originally identified in the nervous system. Recent studies demonstrated L1CAM expression in various types of cancer, predominantly at the invasive front of tumors and in metastases, suggesting its involvement in advanced stages of tumor progression. Overexpression of L1CAM in normal and cancer cells increased motility, enhanced growth rate and promoted cell transformation and tumorigenicity. Moreover, the expression of L1CAM in tumor cells conferred the capacity to form metastases. These properties of L1CAM, in addition to its cell surface localization, make it a potentially useful diagnostic marker for cancer progression and a candidate for anti-cancer therapy. We review the role of L1CAM in cancer progression with particular emphasis on colon cancer, and the potential of anti-L1CAM antibodies as a therapeutic tool for cancer.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Colonic Neoplasms / etiology
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Neural Cell Adhesion Molecule L1 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Neural Cell Adhesion Molecule L1 / genetics
  • Neural Cell Adhesion Molecule L1 / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction
  • TCF Transcription Factors / physiology
  • Wnt Proteins / genetics
  • Wnt Proteins / physiology
  • beta Catenin / physiology


  • Neural Cell Adhesion Molecule L1
  • TCF Transcription Factors
  • Wnt Proteins
  • beta Catenin