GRP78 signaling hub a receptor for targeted tumor therapy

Adv Genet. 2010;69:97-114. doi: 10.1016/S0065-2660(10)69006-2.


Glucose-regulated protein 78 (GRP78) is a potential receptor for targeting therapy in cancer and chronic vascular disease due to its overexpression at the cell surface in tumor cells and in atherosclerotic lesions. Presence of the GRP78 autoantibody in cancer patient sera is generally associated with poor prognosis since it signals a prosurvival mechanism in response to cellular stress. Association of GRP78 with various binding partners involves coordination of multiple signaling pathways that result in either cell survival or cell death. Binding of activated alpha2-macroglobulin to cell-surface GRP78 activates Akt to suppress apoptotic pathways through multiple downstream effectors, and concomitantly upregulates NF-kappaBeta and induces the unfolded protein response (UPR) so that cell proliferation prevails. Interaction of GRP78 with cell-surface T-cadherin promotes endothelial cell survival. Association of oncogenic Cripto with GRP78 nullifies TGF-beta superfamily-dependent signaling through Smad2/3 to promote cell proliferation. In contrast, association of GRP78 with the plasminogen kringle 5 domain or extracellular Par-4 promotes apoptosis. Interaction of GRP78 with microplasminogen induces the UPR while association with tissue factor inhibits procoagulant activity. The diverse and multiple binding proteins of GRP78 and their equally diverse functional outcomes reflect the regulatory cellular functions that GRP78 orchestrates. Several GRP78 targeting peptides have been isolated from different tumors and they show remarkable tumor specificity. Conjugation of GRP78-targeting peptides to an apoptosis-inducing peptide suppresses tumor growth in tumor xenografts, thereby demonstrating that GRP78 is a viable target by which clinical cancer therapies can be successfully developed as well as its potential utility in treating vascular disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / blood
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / immunology
  • Autoantibodies / blood
  • Autoantibodies / immunology
  • Cadherins / therapeutic use
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cell Survival
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum Chaperone BiP
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Peptide Fragments / metabolism
  • Plasminogen / metabolism
  • Receptors, Thrombin / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • Thromboplastin / metabolism
  • Unfolded Protein Response
  • Vascular Diseases / drug therapy*
  • alpha-Macroglobulins / metabolism


  • Autoantibodies
  • Cadherins
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum Chaperone BiP
  • HSPA5 protein, human
  • Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Receptors, Thrombin
  • alpha-Macroglobulins
  • microplasminogen protein, human
  • Plasminogen
  • Thromboplastin
  • protease-activated receptor 4