The extracellular matrix (ECM) is the physical scaffold where cells are organized into tissues and organs. The ECM may be modified during cancer to allow and promote proliferation, invasion, and metastasis. The family of lysyl oxidase (LOX) enzymes cross-links collagens and elastin and, therefore, is a central player in ECM deposition and maturation. Extensive research has revealed how the LOX proteins participate in every stage of cancer progression, and two family members, LOX and LOX-like 2, have been linked to metastasis, the final stage of cancer responsible for over 90% of cancer patient deaths. However, LOX biosynthesis results in by-product with antiproliferative properties in certain cancers, and LOX enzymes may have different effects depending on the molecular network in which they are active. Therefore, the design of therapies targeting the LOX family needs to be guided by the molecular makeup of the individual disease and will probably require other agents to act on both the LOX enzymes and their associated network.
Keywords: cancer; extracellular matrix; lysyl oxidase; metastasis.