The neuropilin (Nrp) family consists of multifunctional cell surface receptors with critical roles in a number of different cell and tissue types. A core aspect of Nrp function is in ligand-dependent cellular migration, where it controls the multistep process of cellular motility through integration of ligand binding and receptor signaling. At a molecular level, the role of Nrp in migration is intimately connected to the control of adhesive interactions and cytoskeletal reorganization. Here, we review the physiological role of Nrp in cellular adhesion and motility in the cardiovascular and nervous systems. We also discuss the emerging pathological role of Nrp in tumor cell migration and metastasis, providing motivation for continued efforts toward developing Nrp inhibitors.

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Published in Biomolecular Concepts, v. 5, no. 2, p. 157-166.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/bmc-2013-0035

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This work was supported by National Institutes of Health grant R01GM094155. The authors declare no conflicts of interest.