• osteopontin;
  • tumour microenvironment;
  • bone microenvironment;
  • metastasis;
  • angiogenesis


Osteopontin (OPN) is a secreted protein present in bodily fluids and tissues. It is subject to multiple post-translational modifications, including phosphorylation, glycosylation, proteolytic cleavage and crosslinking by transglutamination. Binding of OPN to integrin and CD44 receptors regulates signalling cascades that affect processes such as adhesion, migration, invasion, chemotaxis and cell survival. A variety of cells and tissues express OPN, including bone, vasculature, kidney, inflammatory cells and numerous secretory epithelia. Normal physiological roles include regulation of immune functions, vascular remodelling, wound repair and developmental processes. OPN also is expressed in many cancers, and elevated levels in patients’ tumour tissue and blood are associated with poor prognosis. Tumour growth is regulated by interactions between tumour cells and their tissue microenvironment. Within a tumour mass, OPN can be expressed by both tumour cells and cellular components of the tumour microenvironment, and both tumour and normal cells may have receptors able to bind to OPN. OPN can also be found as a component of the extracellular matrix. The functional roles of OPN in a tumour are thus complex, with OPN secreted by both tumour cells and cells in the tumour microenvironment, both of which can in turn respond to OPN. Much remains to be learned about the cross-talk between normal and tumour cells within a tumour, and the role of multiple forms of OPN in these interactions. Understanding OPN-mediated interactions within a tumour will be important for the development of therapeutic strategies to target OPN.