Over 250 PDZ (PSD95/Dlg/ZO-1) domain-containing proteins have been described in the human proteome. As many of these possess multiple PDZ domains, the potential combinations of associations with proteins that possess PBMs (PDZ-binding motifs) are vast. However, PDZ domain recognition is a highly specific process, and much less promiscuous than originally thought. Furthermore, a large number of PDZ domain-containing proteins have been linked directly to the control of processes whose loss, or inappropriate activation, contribute to the development of human malignancies. These regulate processes as diverse as cytoskeletal organization, cell polarity, cell proliferation and many signal transduction pathways. In the present review, we discuss how PBM–PDZ recognition and imbalances therein can perturb cellular homoeostasis and ultimately contribute to malignant progression.

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