With the recognition that WASP/WAVE proteins are intrinsically involved in cell motility through regulation of actin polymerization, there has come the realization that this family could be involved in the motility of cancer cells and their invasive and metastatic potential.

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There have since been numerous investigations into the role of the WASP/WAVE family proteins in development of cancer.

The evidence presented here confirms that WASP/WAVE proteins are linked to the migratory, invasive, and metastatic behavior of numerous cell types, including breast cancer cells, which have been the main focus of this review.

A link between WASP/WAVE activity and the clinical outcome for breast cancer patients has also been described. Although recent studies have started to implicate the activators and pathways through which WASP/WAVEs may act to influence the behavior of cancer cells, further studies are required to fully elucidate which of the factors that regulate this family may be responsible for their role in cancer progression.

Through doing so, we can target the WASP/WAVE family or the pathways that they are a part of in the hope of controlling the invasive and metastatic cell behavior that they have been implicated in.

Many reports have highlighted the potential of targeting the WASP/WAVE family as a therapy for can­cer progression, in particular breast cancer.

It is important to determine the molecular mechanisms of WASP/WAVE activity and their exact contributions to the stages of cancer progression, thereby opening the door for development of anticancer drugs targeting the WASP/WAVE family and related pathways.


This work was supported by two sponsors, ie, the Life Science Research Network Wales, an initiative funded through Welsh Government’s Sêr Cymru programme, and Cancer Research Wales.


The authors report that they have no conflicts of interest associated with this work.

Bethan Frugtniet, Wen G. Jiang, Tracey A. Martin

Cardiff-China Medical Research Collaborative, Cardiff University School of Medicine, Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK

Correspondence: Tracey A MartinCardiff-China Medical Research Collaborative, Cardiff University School of Medicine, Cardiff University, Henry Wellcome Building, Heath Park, Cardiff CF14 4XN, UK.
Tel +44 29 2068 7209
E-mail: [email protected] 


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Source: Breast Cancer: Targets and Therapy.