Genetic alterations affecting members of the Janus kinase (JAK) family have been discovered in a wide array of cancers and are particularly prominent in hematological malignancies. In this review, we focus on the role of such lesions in both myeloid and lymphoid tumors. Oncogenic JAK molecules can activate a myriad of canonical downstream signaling pathways as well as directly interact with chromatin in noncanonical processes, the interplay of which results in a plethora of diverse biological consequences. Deciphering these complexities is shedding unexpected light on fundamental cellular mechanisms and will also be important for improved diagnosis, identification of new therapeutic targets, and the development of stratified approaches to therapy.
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