Mucin glycoproteins block apoptosis; promote invasion, proliferation, and migration; and cause chemoresistance through diverse pathways in epithelial cancers.

Overexpression of mucin glycoproteins has been demonstrated in many epithelial-derived cancers. The significance of this overexpression remains uncertain. The aim of this paper was to define the association of mucin glycoproteins with apoptosis, cell growth, invasion, migration, adhesion, and clonogenicity in vitro as well as tumor growth, tumorigenicity, and metastasis in vivo in epithelial-derived cancers by performing a systematic review of all published data. A systematic review of PubMed, Embase, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials was performed to identify all papers that evaluated the association between mucin glycoproteins with apoptosis, cell growth, invasion, migration, adhesion, and clonogenicity in vitro as well as tumor growth, tumorigenicity, and metastasis in vivo in epithelial-derived cancers. PRISMA guidelines were adhered to. Results of individual studies were extracted and pooled together based on the organ in which the cancer was derived from. The initial search revealed 2031 papers, of which 90 were deemed eligible for inclusion in the study. The studies included details on MUC1, MUC2, MUC4, MUC5AC, MUC5B, MUC13, and MUC16. The majority of studies evaluated MUC1. MUC1 overexpression was consistently associated with resistance to apoptosis and resistance to chemotherapy. There was also evidence that overexpression of MUC2, MUC4, MUC5AC, MUC5B, MUC13, and MUC16 conferred resistance to apoptosis in epithelial-derived cancers. The overexpression of mucin glycoproteins is associated with resistance to apoptosis in numerous epithelial cancers. They cause resistance through diverse signaling pathways. Targeting the expression of mucin glycoproteins represents a potential therapeutic target in the treatment of epithelial-derived cancers.