A spoonful of sugar makes the melanoma go: the role of heparan sulfate proteoglycans in melanoma metastasis


M. P. O’Connell, email: moconnell@wistar.org and A. T. Weeraratna, e-mail: aweeraratna@wistar.org


Heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs) have been shown to regulate signaling in many systems and are of increasing interest in cancer. While these are not the only sugars to drive melanoma metastasis, HSPGs play important roles in driving metastatic signaling cascades in melanoma. The ability of these proteins to modulate ligand–receptor interactions in melanoma has been quite understudied. Recent data from several groups indicate the importance of these ligands in modulating key signaling pathways including Wnt and fibroblast growth factor (FGF) signaling. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge regarding the structure and function of these proteoglycans and their role in melanoma. Understanding how HSPGs modulate signaling in melanoma could lead to new therapeutic approaches via the dampening or heightening of key signaling pathways.