The extracellular matrix (ECM) regulates many biological functions involved in tumorigenesis and tumor development; however, the underlying mechanism remains unknown. Sigma 1 receptor (Sig1R), a stress-activated chaperone, regulates the crosstalk between the ECM and tumor cells and is related to the malignant characteristics of several tumors. However, the link between Sig1R overexpression and ECM during malignancy has not been established in bladder cancer (BC).

Here, we analyzed the interaction of Sig1R and β-integrin in BC cells and its role in ECM-mediated cell proliferation and angiogenesis. We found that Sig1R forms a complex with β-integrin to promote ECM-mediated BC cell proliferation and angiogenesis, which enhances the aggressiveness of the tumor cells. This leads to poor survival. Our research revealed that Sig1R mediates the cross-talk between BC cells and their ECM microenvironment, thereby driving the progression of BC. Promisingly, targeting an ion channel function through Sig1R inhibition may serve as a potential approach for BC treatment.