Cell-surface and mitotic-spindle RHAMM: Moonlighting or dual oncogenic functions?

Christopher Alan Maxwell, James McCarthy, Eva Turley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

149 Scopus citations


Tumor cells use a wide variety of post-translational mechanisms to modify the functional repertoire of their transcriptome. One emerging but still understudied mechanism involves the export of cytoplasmic proteins that then partner with cell-surface receptors and modify both the surface-display kinetics and signaling properties of these receptors. Recent investigations demonstrate moonlighting roles for the proteins epimorphin, FGF1, FGF2, PLK1 and Ku8O, to name a few, during oncogenesis and inflammation. Here, we review the molecular mechanisms of unconventional cytoplasmic-protein export by focusing on the mitotic-spindle/hyaluronan-binding protein RHAMM, which is hyper-expressed in many human tumors. Intracellular RHAMM associates with BRCA1 and BARDl; this association attenuates the mitotic-spindle-promoting activity of RHAMM that might contribute to tumor progression by promoting genomic instability. Extracellular RHAMM-CD44 partnering sustains CD44 surface display and enhances CD44-mediated signaling through ERK1 and ERK2 (ERK1/2); it might also contribute to tumor progression by enhancing and/or activating the latent tumor-promoting properties of CD44. The unconventional export of proteins such as RHAMM is a novel process that modifies the roles of tumor suppressors and promoters, such as BRCA1 and CD44, and might provide new targets for therapeutic intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)925-932
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of cell science
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 1 2008


  • CD44
  • Unconventional protein export

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