ATX (autotaxin) is a secreted lysophospholipase capable of catalysing the formation of the bioactive lipid mediator LPA (lysophosphatidate) from LPC (lysophosphatidylcholine). The ATX–LPA signalling axis plays an important role in both normal physiology and disease pathogenesis, including cancer. In a number of different human cancers, expression of ATX and the G-protein-coupled LPARs (lysophosphatidic acid receptors) have been shown to be elevated and their activation regulates many processes central to tumorigenesis, including proliferation, invasion, migration and angiogenesis. The present review provides an overview of the ATX–LPA signalling axis and collates current knowledge regarding its specific role in breast cancer. The potential manipulation of this pathway to facilitate diagnosis and treatment is also discussed.

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