Olfactomedin 4 expression and functions in innate immunity, inflammation, and cancer

Cancer Metastasis Rev. 2016 Jun;35(2):201-12. doi: 10.1007/s10555-016-9624-2.


Olfactomedin 4 (OLFM4) is an olfactomedin domain-containing glycoprotein. Multiple signaling pathways and factors, including NF-κB, Wnt, Notch, PU.1, retinoic acids, estrogen receptor, and miR-486, regulate its expression. OLFM4 interacts with several other proteins, such as gene associated with retinoic-interferon-induced mortality 19 (GRIM-19), cadherins, lectins, nucleotide oligomerization domain-1 (NOD1) and nucleotide oligomerization domain-2 (NOD2), and cathepsins C and D, known to regulate important cellular functions. Recent investigations using Olfm4-deficient mouse models have provided important clues about its in vivo biological functions. Olfm4 inhibited Helicobacter pylori-induced NF-κB pathway activity and inflammation and facilitated H. pylori colonization in the mouse stomach. Olfm4-deficient mice exhibited enhanced immunity against Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus infection. Olfm4 deletion in a chronic granulomatous disease mouse model rescued them from S. aureus infection. Olfm4 deletion in mice treated with azoxymethane/dextran sodium sulfate led to robust intestinal inflammation and intestinal crypt hyperplasia. Olfm4 deletion in Apc (Min/+) mice promoted intestinal polyp formation as well as adenocarcinoma development in the distal colon. Further, Olfm4-deficient mice spontaneously developed prostatic epithelial lesions as they age. OLFM4 expression is correlated with cancer differentiation, stage, metastasis, and prognosis in a variety of cancers, suggesting its potential clinical value as an early-stage cancer marker or a therapeutic target. Collectively, these data suggest that OLFM4 plays important roles in innate immunity against bacterial infection, gastrointestinal inflammation, and cancer. In this review, we have summarized OLFM4's initial characterization, expression, regulation, protein interactions, and biological functions.

Keywords: Bacterial infection; Cancer; Inflammation; NF-κB; Olfactomedin 4.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Infections / genetics
  • Bacterial Infections / immunology
  • Bacterial Infections / metabolism
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor / chemistry
  • Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor / genetics*
  • Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / genetics*
  • Inflammation / genetics*
  • Inflammation / immunology*
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / immunology*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Protein Binding
  • Signal Transduction


  • Carrier Proteins
  • MicroRNAs
  • NF-kappa B
  • OLFM4 protein, human
  • Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor