Targeting cell cycle regulation in cancer therapy

Pharmacol Ther. 2013 May;138(2):255-71. doi: 10.1016/j.pharmthera.2013.01.011. Epub 2013 Jan 26.


Cell proliferation is an essential mechanism for growth, development and regeneration of eukaryotic organisms; however, it is also the cause of one of the most devastating diseases of our era: cancer. Given the relevance of the processes in which cell proliferation is involved, its regulation is of paramount importance for multicellular organisms. Cell division is orchestrated by a complex network of interactions between proteins, metabolism and microenvironment including several signaling pathways and mechanisms of control aiming to enable cell proliferation only in response to specific stimuli and under adequate conditions. Three main players have been identified in the coordinated variation of the many molecules that play a role in cell cycle: i) The cell cycle protein machinery including cyclin-dependent kinases (CDK)-cyclin complexes and related kinases, ii) The metabolic enzymes and related metabolites and iii) The reactive-oxygen species (ROS) and cellular redox status. The role of these key players and the interaction between oscillatory and non-oscillatory species have proved essential for driving the cell cycle. Moreover, cancer development has been associated to defects in all of them. Here, we provide an overview on the role of CDK-cyclin complexes, metabolic adaptations and oxidative stress in regulating progression through each cell cycle phase and transitions between them. Thus, new approaches for the design of innovative cancer therapies targeting crosstalk between cell cycle simultaneous events are proposed.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cell Cycle Checkpoints / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy / methods*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Oxidation-Reduction


  • Antineoplastic Agents