Podoplanin is a mucin-type glycoprotein firstly identified in podocytes, which is homologous to the type I alveolar cell specific T1α-2 antigen and to the oncofetal antigen M2A recognized by the D2-40 antibody. Podoplanin possesses a platelet aggregation-stimulating domain causes the platelet aggregation on cancer cells by the binding activity to CLEC-2. Podoplanin also contributes to the formation of membrane-actin structures. The increased podoplanin expression is found in squamous cell carcinomas at the invasive edge. It has been reported that the podoplanin induces an actin cytoskeleton rearrangement dependent on the RhoA GTPase activation to phosphorylate ezrin and facilitates an epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) which induces the single cell migration of cancer cells. However, the podoplanin-expressing cancer cells often express E-cadherin and migrate in a collective manner, suggesting that there are podoplanin-induced alternative pathways for the actin cytoskeleton rearrangement independent of the RhoA activation and EMT. The strong expression of podoplanin is present in salivary gland myoepithelial cells, and in enamel epithelia and odontoblasts of the tooth germ for a bell stage. Podoplanin may act as a cell morphological regulator in normal and cancer cells.
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