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Drug Resist Updat. 2004 Feb;7(1):53-67.

NF-kappaB in cancer--a friend turned foe.

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The Bunting Family-The Family of Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Building for Cancer Research, The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 1650 Orleans Street, Baltimore, MD 21231-1000, USA.


The nuclear factor of kappaB (NF-kappaB) family of heterodimeric transcription factors plays an instrumental role in immune, inflammatory, and stress responses. NF-kappaB induces the expression of diverse target genes that promote cell cycle progression, regulate apoptosis, and facilitate cell adhesion, angiogenesis, and metastasis. Given the ability of NF-kappaB to influence these cardinal features of neoplastic transformation, it is no surprise that tumor cells of almost every tissue type acquire the ability to constitutively activate NF-kappaB via a host of diverse genetic alterations and viral proteins. The activation of NF-kappaB not only enables malignant transformation and tumor progression, but also provides a mechanism by which tumor cells escape immune surveillance and resist therapy. NF-kappaB may be inhibited by targeting either the apical signaling proteins responsible for its activation in specific types of cancer, the downstream kinases (IkappaB kinase and casein kinase 2) at which NF-kappaB-activating signaling pathways converge, the proteasome-mediated degradation of the inhibitor of kappaB (IkappaB) proteins, or the transcriptional activity of Rel proteins. Since NF-kappaB inhibitors can sensitize tumor cells to apoptosis signaling pathways activated by death receptors, interferons, and immune effector cells, they hold enormous promise for the development of effective combinatorial regimens against a wide spectrum of hematologic and epithelial malignancies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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