Endocytosis and Cancer: an ‘Insider’ Network with Dangerous Liaisons

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From the signaling point of view, endocytosis has long been regarded as a major mechanism of attenuation, through the degradation of signaling receptors and, in some cases, of their ligands. This outlook has changed, over the past decade, as it has become clear that signaling persists in the endocytic route, and that intracellular endocytic stations (the ‘signaling endosomes’) actually contribute to the sorting of signals in space and time. Endocytosis-mediated recycling of receptors and of signaling molecules to specific regions of the plasma membrane is also coming into focus as a major mechanism in the execution of spatially restricted functions, such as cell motility. In addition, emerging evidence connects endocytosis as a whole, or individual endocytic proteins, to complex cellular programs, such as the control of the cell cycle, mitosis, apoptosis and cell fate determination. Thus, endocytosis seems to be deeply ingrained into the cell regulation blueprint and its subversion is predicted to play an important role in human diseases: first and foremost, cancer.

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