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IUBMB Life. 2006 Mar;58(3):123-32.

Embryonic transcription factors in human breast cancer.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Braman Family Breast Cancer Institute, Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Miami School of Medicine, Miami, Florida 33136, USA.


Growing evidence suggests that breast cancer cells often reactivate latent developmental programs in order to efficiently execute the multi-step process of tumorigenesis. This review focuses on key transcriptional regulators of embryonic development that are deregulated in breast cancer and discusses the molecular mechanisms by which these proteins control carcinogenesis. Reminiscent of their function during development, embryonic transcription factors regulate changes in gene expression that promote tumor cell growth, cell survival and motility, as well as a morphogenetic process called epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), which is implicated in both breast metastasis and tumor recurrence. Because of their pivotal roles in breast tumor progression, these factors represent valuable new biomarkers for breast cancer detection as well as promising new targets for anti-invasive drugs.

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