Semaphorins and tumor angiogenesis

Angiogenesis. 2009;12(2):187-93. doi: 10.1007/s10456-009-9138-4. Epub 2009 Mar 6.


Semaphorins belong to a large family of proteins well-conserved along evolution from viruses to mammalians. Secreted and membrane-bound semaphorins participate in a wide range of biological phenomena including development and regeneration of nervous system, cardiovascular development, and immune system activities. Different classes of semaphorins are bifunctional and often exert opposite effects (i.e., repellent or attractive) by acting through the plexin receptor family. However, some classes use other membrane receptors and the same plexin-mediated signals may be modulated by co-receptors, in particular neuropilins or some tyrosine kinase receptors. In cancer, semaphorins have both tumor-suppressor and tumor-promoting functions, by acting on both tumor and stromal components. Here, we review the role of semaphorins in tumor angiogenesis and propose that an unbalance between autocrine loops respectively involving angiogenic inducers and class 3 semaphorin is instrumental for structural and functional abnormalities observed in tumor vasculature.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Vessels / metabolism
  • Blood Vessels / pathology
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / blood supply*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / metabolism*
  • Semaphorins / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Semaphorins