The heparanase/syndecan-1 axis in cancer: Mechanisms and therapies

Academic Article


  • Heparanase is an endoglucuronidase that cleaves heparan sulfate chains of proteoglycans. In many malignancies, high heparanase expression and activity correlate with an aggressive tumour phenotype. A major consequence of heparanase action in cancer is a robust up-regulation of growth factor expression and increased shedding of syndecan-1 (a transmembrane heparan sulfate proteoglycan). Substantial evidence indicates that heparanase and syndecan-1 work together to drive growth factor signalling and regulate cell behaviours that enhance tumour growth, dissemination, angiogenesis and osteolysis. Preclinical and clinical studies have demonstrated that therapies targeting the heparanase/syndecan-1 axis hold promise for blocking the aggressive behaviour of cancer. Levels of the heparan sulfate proteoglycan syndecan-1 and the heparan sulfate degrading enzyme heparanase are elevated in many cancers. Together these two molecules form a powerful axis that promotes an aggressive tumor phenotype. This review focuses on the mechanism of action of the heparanase/syndecan-1 axis and emerging therapeutic strategies to target this axis. © 2013 The Authors Journal compilation © 2013 FEBS.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Ramani VC; Purushothaman A; Stewart MD; Thompson CA; Vlodavsky I; Au JLS; Sanderson RD
  • Start Page

  • 2294
  • End Page

  • 2306
  • Volume

  • 280
  • Issue

  • 10