Tetraspanins in human epithelial malignancies

J Pathol. 2011 Jan;223(1):4-14. doi: 10.1002/path.2779. Epub 2010 Oct 11.


Transmembrane proteins of the tetraspanin superfamily are implicated in a broad spectrum of cellular processes in many biological systems in both health and disease. Tetraspanins form specialized membrane microdomains on the cell surface which control cell proliferation and migration through various adhesion and growth factor receptors. Recent extensive research has shown that expression of various tetraspanins and their associated partners is deregulated in human malignancies. Although, for the most part, the degree of involvement of tetraspanins in carcinogenesis remains to be established, increasing evidence suggests that these proteins might be of clinical significance in at least some malignancies. Here we provide a comprehensive review of the existing data on expression of tetraspanins in breast cancer and other human epithelial tumours, with an emphasis on their value as potential prognostic markers.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, CD / metabolism
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kangai-1 Protein / metabolism
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms, Glandular and Epithelial / metabolism*
  • Tetraspanin 24
  • Tetraspanin 29


  • Antigens, CD
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • CD151 protein, human
  • CD82 protein, human
  • CD9 protein, human
  • Kangai-1 Protein
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Tetraspanin 24
  • Tetraspanin 29