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Breast Cancer Res. 2011 May 31;13(3):210. doi: 10.1186/bcr2875.

Notch signaling as a therapeutic target for breast cancer treatment?

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  • 1Department of Oncology, University of Alberta, Cross Cancer Institute, Edmonton, Canada.


Aberrant Notch signaling can induce mammary gland carcinoma in transgenic mice, and high expressions of Notch receptors and ligands have been linked to poor clinical outcomes in human patients with breast cancer. This suggests that inhibition of Notch signaling may be beneficial for breast cancer treatment. In this review, we critically evaluate the evidence that supports or challenges the hypothesis that inhibition of Notch signaling would be advantageous in breast cancer management. We find that there are many remaining uncertainties that must be addressed experimentally if we are to exploit inhibition of Notch signaling as a treatment approach in breast cancer. Nonetheless, Notch inhibition, in combination with other therapies, is a promising avenue for future management of breast cancer. Furthermore, since aberrant Notch4 activity can induce mammary gland carcinoma in the absence of RBPjκ, a better understanding of the components of RBPjκ-independent oncogenic Notch signaling pathways and their contribution to Notch-induced tumorigenesis would facilitate the deployment of Notch inhibition strategies for effective treatment of breast cancer.

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