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Open Access Review

Notch signaling in pediatric soft tissue sarcomas

Rossella Rota1*, Roberta Ciarapica1, Lucio Miele2 and Franco Locatelli13

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Oncohematology, Ospedale Pediatrico Bambino Gesù, IRCCS, Piazza Sant'Onofrio 4, Roma, 00165, Italy

2 Cancer Institute, University of Mississippi Medical Center, 2500 N. State Street, Guyton 2 Building, Suite G751-05, Jackson, Mississippi, 39216, USA

3 Dipartimento di Scienze Pediatriche, Policlinico San Matteo, IRCCS, Università di Pavia, Viale Camillo Golgi 19, Pavia, 27100, Italy

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BMC Medicine 2012, 10:141  doi:10.1186/1741-7015-10-141

Published: 16 November 2012

Abstract

Pediatric soft tissue sarcomas are rare tumors of childhood, frequently characterized by specific chromosome translocations. Despite improvements in treatment, their clinical management is often challenging due to the low responsiveness of metastatic forms and aggressive variants to conventional therapeutic approaches, which leads to poor overall survival. It is widely thought that soft tissue sarcomas derive from mesenchymal progenitor cells that, during embryonic life, have developed chromosomal aberrations with de-regulation of the main pathways governing tissue morphogenesis. The Notch signaling pathway is one of the most important molecular networks involved in differentiation processes. Emerging evidence highlights the role of Notch signaling de-regulation in the biology of these pediatric sarcomas. In this review, we present an outline of recently gathered evidence on the role of Notch signaling in soft tissue sarcomas, highlighting its importance in tumor cell biology. The potential challenges and opportunities of targeting Notch signaling in the treatment of pediatric soft tissue sarcomas are also discussed.

Keywords:
soft tissue sarcoma; Notch; mesenchymal cells; γ-secretase; Synovial sarcoma; Ewing sarcoma; Rhabdomyosarcoma