Notch and cancer: a double-edged sword

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2007 Nov;64(21):2746-62. doi: 10.1007/s00018-007-7164-1.


The highly conserved Notch signaling pathway plays pleiotropic roles during embryonic development and is important for the regulation of self-renewing tissues. The physiological functions of this signaling cascade range from stem cell maintenance and influencing cell fate decisions of barely differentiated progenitor cells, to the induction of terminal differentiation processes, all of which have been found to be recapitulated in different forms of cancers. Although Notch signaling has mostly been associated with oncogenic and growth-promoting roles, depending on the tissue type it can also function as a tumor suppressor. Here we describe recent findings on Notch signaling in cancer and tumor angiogenesis, and highlight some of the therapeutic approaches that are currently being developed to interfere with tumor growth and progression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / etiology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / etiology
  • Female
  • Genes, Tumor Suppressor
  • Humans
  • Leukemia / etiology
  • Male
  • Medulloblastoma / etiology
  • Melanoma / etiology
  • Models, Biological
  • Neoplasms / blood supply
  • Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic
  • Oncogenes
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / etiology
  • Receptors, Notch / genetics
  • Receptors, Notch / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Receptors, Notch