Activation of the hedgehog-signaling pathway in human cancer and the clinical implications

Oncogene. 2010 Jan 28;29(4):469-81. doi: 10.1038/onc.2009.392. Epub 2009 Nov 23.


The hedgehog pathway, initially discovered by two Nobel laureates Drs E Wieschaus and C Nusslein-Volhard in Drosophila, is a major regulator for cell differentiation, tissue polarity and cell proliferation. Studies from many laboratories reveal activation of this pathway in a variety of human cancer, including basal cell carcinomas (BCCs), medulloblastomas, leukemia, gastrointestinal, lung, ovarian, breast and prostate cancers. It is thus believed that targeted inhibition of hedgehog signaling may be effective in treatment and prevention of human cancer. Even more exciting is the discovery and synthesis of specific signaling antagonists for the hedgehog pathway, which have significant clinical implications in novel cancer therapeutics. In this review, we will summarize major advances in the last 2 years in our understanding of hedgehog signaling activation in human cancer, interactions between hedgehog signaling and other pathways in carcinogenesis, potential antagonists for hedgehog signaling inhibition and their clinical implications for human cancer treatment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Design
  • Hedgehog Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Hedgehog Proteins