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Oncogene. 2008 Sep 1;27(38):5148-67. doi: 10.1038/onc.2008.229.

The many facets of Notch ligands.

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Department of Biological Chemistry, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1737, USA.


The Notch signaling pathway regulates a diverse array of cell types and cellular processes and is tightly regulated by ligand binding. Both canonical and noncanonical Notch ligands have been identified that may account for some of the pleiotropic nature associated with Notch signaling. This review focuses on the molecular mechanisms by which Notch ligands function as signaling agonists and antagonists, and discusses different modes of activating ligands as well as findings that support intrinsic ligand signaling activity independent of Notch. Post-translational modification, proteolytic processing, endocytosis and membrane trafficking, as well as interactions with the actin cytoskeleton may contribute to the recently appreciated multifunctionality of Notch ligands. The regulation of Notch ligand expression by other signaling pathways provides a mechanism to coordinate Notch signaling with multiple cellular and developmental cues. The association of Notch ligands with inherited human disorders and cancer highlights the importance of understanding the molecular nature and activities intrinsic to Notch ligands. Oncogene (2008) 27, 5148-5167; doi:10.1038/onc.2008.229.

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