TGFβ1, back to the future: Revisiting its role as a transforming growth factor

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TGFβ1 was initially identified in culture media from transformed cells as part of a factor that could produce a transformed phenotype in a nontransformed cell line. Subsequently this activity was separated into TGFβ and TGFα, an EGF receptor ligand. With the discovery that TGFβ1 was a potent growth inhibitor of epithelial cells, and the identification of inactivating mutations within the TGFβ1 signaling pathway in cancers it became clear that TGFβ1 signaling is a tumor suppressor pathway for early stages of cancer. However many human carcinomas overexpress TGFβ1 and this is associated with poor patient prognosis and increased frequency of metastasis. Similar results have been obtained with tumor cell lines and experimental animal models. Thus stage specific duality of function is the emerging paradigm for the role of TGFβ1 in cancer. This review will focus on the evidence for TGFβ1 as a tumor promoting and metastasis factor and examine the biological and molecular basis for these effects. It is proposed that the switch from tumor suppressor to oncogene reflects genetic or epigenetic alterations in signaling pathways in tumor cells that alter the readout from the TGFβ1 pathway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)276-283
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Biology and Therapy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Oncology
  • Pharmacology
  • Cancer Research


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