The transmembrane glycoprotein Mucin 1 (MUC1) is aberrantly glycosylated and overexpressed in a variety of epithelial cancers, and plays a crucial role in progression of the disease. Tumor-associated MUC1 differs from the MUC1 expressed in normal cells with regard to its biochemical features, cellular distribution, and function. In cancer cells, MUC1 participates in intracellular signal transduction pathways and regulates the expression of its target genes at both the transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels. This review highlights the structural and functional differences that exist between normal and tumor-associated MUC1. We also discuss the recent advances made in the use of MUC1 as a biomarker and therapeutic target for cancer.
Keywords: ABC pumps; EMT; Mucin 1 (MUC1); VNTR; cancer; cancer stem cell.
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