ADAM12/meltrin α is a type I transmembrane multidomain protein involved in tumor progression and other severe diseases, including osteoarthritis, and as such could be considered as a potential drug target. In addition to protease activity, ADAM12 possesses cell binding and cell signaling properties. This functional trinity is reflected in the structure of ADAM12, which can be divided into head, body, and tail. The head of the protein (consisting of the pro and catalytic domains) mediates processing of growth factors and cytokines and has been implicated in epidermal growth factor (EGF) and insulin-like growth factor receptor signaling. The body of the protein (consisting of the disintegrin, cysteine-rich, and EGF-like domains) is involved in contacts with the extracellular matrix and other cells through interactions with integrins and syndecans. Finally, the tail of the protein (consisting of the cytoplasmic domain) is engaged in interactions with intracellular signaling molecules. In many studies, ADAM12 overexpression has been correlated with disease, and ADAM12 has been shown to promote tumor growth and progression in cancer. On the other hand, protective effects of ADAM12 in disease have also been reported. Future investigations should address the precise mechanisms of ADAM12 in disease and biology in order to counterbalance the benefits from targeting ADAM12 therapeutically with possible side effects. This review describes the biology of ADAM12, its association with disease, and evaluates the possible approaches to targeting ADAM12 in human disease.
Keywords: ADAM12, TIMP-3, TIMP-2, Cancer, Osteoarthritis, Drug, Shedding, Therapy
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