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Cancer Metastasis Rev. 2003 Dec;22(4):423-34.

Jak family of kinases in cancer.

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Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center and Section of Hematology-Oncology, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, IL, USA.


The family of Jak kinases is composed from at least four different tyrosine kinases (Tyk2, Jak1, Jak2, Jak3) that share significant structural homology with each other. The members of this family of kinases associate constitutively with a variety of cytokine and hormone receptors. Upon binding of the specific ligands to their receptors, Jak kinases are rapidly activated and their kinase activities induced, to regulate tyrosine phosphorylation of various effectors and initiate activation of downstream signaling pathways. The discovery of this family of tyrosine kinases dates back in the early 1990s with the cloning of the Tyk-2 tyrosine kinase as a critical element of the Type I interferon signaling pathway. Extensive work over the last few years has provided evidence that Jak kinases play important roles in the generation of responses for interferons, which are cytokines that exhibit important antitumor activities. There is also accumulating evidence that constitutive activation of different Jaks and Stats mediates neoplastic transformation and promotes abnormal cell proliferation in various malignancies. This review summarizes the role of various Jak-kinase dependent pathways in malignancies and discusses the therapeutic implications of the recent advances in the field.

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