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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Current views on the role of Notch signaling and the pathogenesis of human leukemia

Joanna Pancewicz and Christophe Nicot*

Author Affiliations

Department of Pathology, Center for Viral Oncology, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS 66160, USA

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BMC Cancer 2011, 11:502  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-11-502

Published: 30 November 2011

Abstract

The Notch signaling pathway is highly conserved from Drosophila to humans and plays an important role in the regulation of cellular proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis.

Constitutive activation of Notch signaling has been shown to result in excessive cellular proliferation and a wide range of malignancies, including leukemia, glioblastoma and lung and breast cancers. Notch can also act as a tumor suppressor, and its inactivation has been associated with an increased risk of spontaneous squamous cell carcinoma. This minireview focuses on recent advances related to the mechanisms and roles of activated Notch1, Notch2, Notch3 and Notch4 signaling in human lymphocytic leukemia, myeloid leukemia and B cell lymphoma, as well as their significance, and recent advances in Notch-targeted therapies.