Osteopontin (OPN) is a secreted and integrin-binding protein that has been implicated in a number of pathologies. In this review we will focus on the functional and clinical roles of OPN in cancer and metastasis, with a particular emphasis on breast cancer. While much evidence has suggested that OPN is associated with cancer, its functional contribution to cancer remains poorly understood. Here we will review evidence for mechanisms by which OPN may act to enhance malignancy, including evidence that signaling pathways directly induced by OPN, as well as interactions with growth factor receptor pathways, can combine to activate expression of genes and functions that contribute to metastasis. OPN has been shown to be over-expressed in a variety of human tumors and is present in elevated levels in the blood of some patients with metastatic cancers. We also will discuss recent clinical evidence that suggests that OPN is not only associated with several tumor types, but that levels of OPN in cancer patients ’ blood or tumors may provide prognostic information.
London Regional Cancer Centre, 790 Commissioners Road East, London, Ontario N6A 4L6 Canada.