EpCAM: Structure and function in health and disease

Schnell, U., Cirulli, V. & Giepmans, B. N. G., Aug-2013, In : Biochimica et Biophysica Acta-Biomembranes. 1828, 8, p. 1989-2001 13 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

Injection of tumor cells in mice more than 30 years ago resulted in the discovery of an epithelial antigen, later defined as a cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM). Although EpCAM has since evoked significant interest as a target in cancer therapy, mechanistic insights on the functions of this glycoprotein have been emerging only very recently. This may have been caused by the multitude of functions attributed to the glycoprotein, its localization at different subcellular sites and complex posttranslational modifications. Here, we review how EpCAM modifies cell-cell contact adhesion strength and tissue plasticity, and how it regulates cell proliferation and differentiation. Major knowledge derived from human diseases will be highlighted: Mutant EpCAM that is absent from the cell surface leads to fatal intestinal abnormalities (congenital tufting enteropathy). EpCAM-mediated cell proliferation in cancer may result from signaling (i) via regulated intramembrane proteolysis and/or (ii) the localization and association with binding partners in specialized membrane microdomains. New insight in EpCAM signaling will help to develop optimized cancer therapies and open new avenues in the field of regenerative medicine. (C) 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1989-2001
Number of pages13
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta-Biomembranes
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug-2013


  • Epithelial Cell Adhesion Molecule (EpCAM), Cancer, Cell cell contact, Congenital tufting enteropathy, Regulated intramembrane proteolysis, Tetraspanin-enriched microdomains, CELL-ADHESION MOLECULE, EMBRYONIC STEM-CELLS, CONGENITAL TUFTING ENTEROPATHY, EPIDERMAL-GROWTH-FACTOR, STRAIL FUSION PROTEIN, CD44 VARIANT ISOFORMS, E-CADHERIN EXPRESSION, EP-CAM EXPRESSION, MONOCLONAL-ANTIBODIES, LYNCH SYNDROME

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