Decorin is a pivotal effector in the extracellular matrix and tumour microenvironment

Wen Zhang, Yan Ge, Qian Cheng, Qi Zhang, Lin Fang and Junnian Zheng _

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Oncotarget. 2018; 9:5480-5491. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.23869

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Wen Zhang1, Yan Ge1,2, Qian Cheng1, Qi Zhang1, Lin Fang1 and Junnian Zheng1,2,3

1Cancer Institute, Xuzhou Medical University, Xuzhou, China

2Center of Clinical Oncology, Affiliated Hospital of Xuzhou Medical University, Xuzhou, China

3Jiangsu Center for The Collaboration and Innovation of Cancer Biotherapy, Cancer Institute, Xuzhou Medical University, Xuzhou, China

Correspondence to:

Junnian Zheng, email: [email protected]

Lin Fang, email: [email protected]

Keywords: anti-fibrosis; anti-tumour; decorin; pro-inflammatory; proteoglycan

Received: July 21, 2017     Accepted: December 27, 2017     Published: January 03, 2018


Decorin (DCN), an extracellular matrix (ECM) protein, belongs to the small leucine-rich proteoglycan family. As a pluripotent molecule, DCN regulates the bioactivities of cell growth factors and participates in ECM assembly. Accumulating evidence has shown that DCN acts as a ligand of various cytokines and growth factors by directly or indirectly interacting with the corresponding signalling molecules involved in cell growth, differentiation, proliferation, adhesion and metastasis and that DCN especially plays vital roles in cancer cell proliferation, spread, pro-inflammatory processes and anti-fibrillogenesis. The multifunctional nature of DCN thus enables it to be a potential therapeutic agent for a variety of diseases and shows good prospects for clinical and research applications.

DCN, an extracellular matrix (ECM) protein that belongs to the small leucine-rich proteoglycan family, is widely distributed and plays multifunctional roles in the stroma and epithelial cells. Originally, DCN was known as an effective collagen-binding partner for fibrillogenesis [1] and to modulate key biomechanical parameters of tissue integrity in the tendon, skin and cornea [2]; thus, it was named decorin (DCN). Since being initially cloned in 1986, DCN was discovered to be a structural constituent of the ECM [3]. However, the paradigm has been shifted; it has become increasingly evident that in addition to being a matrix structural protein, DCN affects a wide range of biological processes, including cell growth, differentiation, proliferation, adhesion, spread and migration, and regulates inflammation and fibrillogenesis [47]. Two main themes for DCN functions have emerged: maintenance of cellular structure and regulation of signal transduction pathways, culminating in anti-tumourigenic effects. Here, we review the interaction network of DCN and emphasize the biological correlations between these interactions, some of which are expected to be therapeutic intervention targets.

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