Tumor-promoting functions of transforming growth factor-β in progression of cancer
Transforming growth factor-b (TGF-b) elicits both tumor-suppressive and tumor-promoting functions during cancer progression. Here, we describe the tumor-promoting functions of TGF-b and how these functions play a role in cancer progression. Normal epithelial cells undergo epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) through the action of TGF-b, while treatment with TGF-b and fibroblast growth factor (FGF)-2 results in transdifferentiation into activated fibroblastic cells that are highly migratory, thereby facilitating cancer invasion and metastasis. TGF-b also induces EMT in tumor cells, which can be regulated by oncogenic and anti-oncogenic signals. In addition to EMT promotion, invasion and metastasis of cancer are facilitated by TGF-b through other mechanisms, such as regulation of cell survival, angiogenesis, and vascular integrity, and interaction with the tumor microenvironment. TGF-b also plays a critical role in regulating the cancer-initiating properties of certain types of cells, including glioma-initiating cells. These findings thus may be useful for establishing treatment strategies for advanced cancer by inhibiting TGF-b signaling.
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