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    Although cancer is characterized by an intratumoral genetic heterogeneity, a totally deranged pH control is a common feature of most cancer histotypes. Major determinants of aberrant pH gradient in cancer are proton exchangers and transporters, including V-ATPase, Na+/H+ exchanger (NHE), monocarboxylate transporters (MCTs) and carbonic anhydrases (CAs). Thanks to the activity of these proton transporters and exchangers, cancer becomes isolated and/or protected not only from the body reaction against the growing tumor, but also from the vast majority of drugs that when protonated into the acidic tumor microenvironment do not enter into cancer cells. Proton transporters and exchangers represent a key feature tumor cells use to survive in the very hostile microenvironmental conditions that they create and maintain. Detoxifying mechanisms may thus represent both a key survival option and a selection outcome for cells that behave as unicellular microorganisms rather than belonging to an organ, compartment or body. It is, in fact, typical of malignant tumors that, after a clinically measurable yet transient initial response to a therapy, resistant tumor clones emerge and proliferate, thus bursting a more malignant behavior and rapid tumor progression. This review critically presents the background of a novel and efficient approach that aims to fight cancer through blocking or inhibiting well characterized proton exchangers and transporters active in human cancer cells. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Membrane channels and transporters in cancers. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


    Enrico Pierluigi Spugnini, Pierre Sonveaux, Christian Stock, Mario Perez-Sayans, Angelo De Milito, Sofia Avnet, Abel Garcìa Garcìa, Salvador Harguindey, Stefano Fais. Proton channels and exchangers in cancer. Biochimica et biophysica acta. 2015 Oct;1848(10 Pt B):2715-26

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    PMID: 25449995

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