Novel roles for Slits and netrins: axon guidance cues as anticancer targets?

Nat Rev Cancer. 2011 Mar;11(3):188-97. doi: 10.1038/nrc3005. Epub 2011 Feb 17.


Over the past few years, several genes, proteins and signalling pathways that are required for embryogenesis have been shown to regulate tumour development and progression by playing a major part in overriding antitumour safeguard mechanisms. These include axon guidance cues, such as Netrins and Slits. Netrin 1 and members of the Slit family are secreted extracellular matrix proteins that bind to deleted in colorectal cancer (DCC) and UNC5 receptors, and roundabout receptors (Robos), respectively. Their expression is deregulated in a large proportion of human cancers, suggesting that they could be tumour suppressor genes or oncogenes. Moreover, recent data suggest that these ligand-receptor pairs could be promising targets for personalized anticancer therapies.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Nerve Growth Factors / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Nerve Growth Factors / genetics
  • Nerve Growth Factors / metabolism*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism*
  • Netrin-1
  • Protein Binding
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / metabolism*


  • NTN1 protein, human
  • Nerve Growth Factors
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • Netrin-1