Indexed on: 01 Sep '16Published on: 01 Sep '16Published in: Experimental Hematology
Heparanase is an endo-β-D-glucuronidase capable of cleaving heparan sulfate (HS) side chains contributing to break down of the extracellular matrix. Increased expression of heparanase has been found in numerous malignancies, and is associated with a poor prognosis. It has generated significant interest as a potential anti-neoplastic target because of the multiple roles it plays in tumor growth and metastasis. The pro-tumorigenic effects of heparanase are enhanced by the release of HS side chains, with subsequent increase in bioactive fragments and increased cytokine levels; both promoting tumor invasion, angiogenesis and metastasis. Preclinical experiments have shown heparanase inhibitors to substantially reduce tumor growth and metastasis leading to clinical trials with heparan sulfate mimetics. In this review we will examine heparanase's role in tumor biology, its interaction with heparan surface proteoglycans, specifically syndecan-1; as well as the mechanism of action for heparanase inhibitors developed as anti-neoplastic therapeutics.