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Onco Targets Ther. 2013 Jul 23;6:943-55. doi: 10.2147/OTT.S33766. Print 2013.

Gamma secretase inhibitors of Notch signaling.

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The Oncology Institute, Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA.


The numerous processes involved in the etiology of breast cancer such as cell survival, metabolism, proliferation, differentiation, and angiogenesis are currently being elucidated. However, underlying mechanisms that drive breast cancer progression and drug resistance are still poorly understood. As we discuss here in detail, the Notch signaling pathway is an important regulatory component of normal breast development, cell fate of normal breast stem cells, and proliferation and survival of breast cancer initiating cells. Notch exerts a wide range of critical effects through a canonical pathway where it is expressed as a type I membrane precursor heterodimer followed by at least two subsequent cleavages induced by ligand engagement to ultimately release an intracellular form to function as a transcriptional activator. Notch and its ligands are overexpressed in breast cancer, and one method of effectively blocking Notch activity is preventing its cleavage at the cell surface with γ-secretase inhibitors. In the context of Notch signaling, the application of clinically relevant anti-Notch drugs in treatment regimens may contribute to novel therapeutic interventions and promote more effective clinical response in women with breast cancer.


breast cancer; combination breast cancer therapy; signaling pathways; γ-secretase; γ-secretase inhibitors

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