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Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2016 Nov;17(11):722-735. doi: 10.1038/nrm.2016.94. Epub 2016 Aug 10.

Notch signalling in context.

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Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3DY, UK.


The highly conserved Notch signalling pathway functions in many different developmental and homeostatic processes, which raises the question of how this pathway can achieve such diverse outcomes. With a direct route from the membrane to the nucleus, the Notch pathway has fewer opportunities for regulation than do many other signalling pathways, yet it generates exquisitely patterned structures, including sensory hair cells and branched arterial networks. More confusingly, its activity promotes tissue growth and cancers in some circumstances but cell death and tumour suppression in others. Many different regulatory mechanisms help to shape the activity of the Notch pathway, generating functional outputs that are appropriate for each context. These mechanisms include the receptor-ligand landscape, the tissue topology, the nuclear environment and the connectivity of the regulatory networks.

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