FGF receptors: cancer biology and therapeutics

Med Res Rev. 2014 Mar;34(2):280-300. doi: 10.1002/med.21288. Epub 2013 May 21.


Fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) are involved in a variety of cellular processes, such as stemness, proliferation, anti-apoptosis, drug resistance, and angiogenesis. Here, FGF signaling network, cancer genetics/genomics of FGF receptors (FGFRs), and FGFR-targeted therapeutics will be reviewed. FGF signaling to RAS-MAPK branch and canonical WNT signaling cascade mutually regulate transcription programming. FGF signaling to PI3K-AKT branch and Hedgehog, Notch, TGFβ, and noncanonical WNT signaling cascades regulate epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and invasion. Gene amplification of FGFR1 occurs in lung cancer and estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer, and that of FGFR2 in diffuse-type gastric cancer and triple-negative breast cancer. Chromosomal translocation of FGFR1 occurs in the 8p11 myeloproliferative syndrome and alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, as with FGFR3 in multiple myeloma and peripheral T-cell lymphoma. FGFR1 and FGFR3 genes are fused to neighboring TACC1 and TACC3 genes, respectively, due to interstitial deletions in glioblastoma multiforme. Missense mutations of FGFR2 are found in endometrial uterine cancer and melanoma, and similar FGFR3 mutations in invasive bladder tumors, and FGFR4 mutations in rhabdomyosarcoma. Dovitinib, Ki23057, ponatinib, and AZD4547 are orally bioavailable FGFR inhibitors, which have demonstrated striking effects in preclinical model experiments. Dovitinib, ponatinib, and AZD4547 are currently in clinical trial as anticancer drugs. Because there are multiple mechanisms of actions for FGFR inhibitors to overcome drug resistance, FGFR-targeted therapy is a promising strategy for the treatment of refractory cancer. Whole exome/transcriptome sequencing will be introduced to the clinical laboratory as the companion diagnostic platform facilitating patient selection for FGFR-targeted therapeutics in the era of personalized medicine.

Keywords: FGF receptor; gene amplification; point mutation; translocation; tyrosine kinase inhibitor.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Genomics
  • Humans
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Fibroblast Growth Factor / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Stem Cells / metabolism


  • Receptors, Fibroblast Growth Factor