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Histol Histopathol. 2016 Feb;31(2):149-57. doi: 10.14670/HH-11-685. Epub 2015 Nov 2.

Notch signaling in prostate cancer: refining a therapeutic opportunity.

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Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, and Graduate Program in Integrative Molecular and Biomedical Sciences, Houston, Texas, USA.
Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Department of Pathology and Immunology and Dan L. Duncan Cancer Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, USA


Notch is an evolutionarily conserved signaling pathway that plays a critical role in specifying cell fate and regulating tissue homeostasis and carcinogenesis. Studies using organ cultures and genetically engineered mouse models have demonstrated that Notch signaling regulates prostate development and homeostasis. However, the role of the Notch signaling pathway in prostate cancer remains inconclusive. Many published studies have documented consistent deregulation of major Notch signaling components in human prostate cancer cell lines, mouse models for prostate cancers, and human prostate cancer specimens at both the mRNA and the protein levels. However, functional studies in human cancer cells by modulation of Notch pathway elements suggest both tumor suppressive and oncogenic roles of Notch. These controversies may originate from our inadequate understanding of the regulation of Notch signaling under versatile genetic contexts, and reflect the multifaceted and pleiotropic roles of Notch in regulating different aspects of prostate cancer cell biology, such as proliferation, metastasis, and chemo-resistance. Future comprehensive studies using various mouse models for prostate cancer may help clarify the role of Notch signaling in prostate cancer and provide a solid basis for determining whether and how Notch should be employed as a therapeutic target for prostate cancer.

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