Signaling interplay between transforming growth factor-β receptor and PI3K/AKT pathways in cancer

Trends Biochem Sci. 2013 Dec;38(12):612-20. doi: 10.1016/j.tibs.2013.10.001. Epub 2013 Nov 14.


The transforming growth factor (TGF)-β and phosphoinositide 3-kinase/protein kinase B (PI3K/AKT) signaling pathways are used in cells to control numerous responses, including proliferation, apoptosis, and migration. TGF-β is known for its cytostatic effects in premalignant states and its pro-oncogenic activity in advanced cancers. The pro-cell survival response exerted by growth-factor-mediated activation of PI3K/AKT has been linked to stimulation of tumor formation. Both TGF-β receptor and PI3K/AKT pathways were initially modeled as linear signaling conduits. Although early studies suggested that these two pathways might counteract each other in balancing cell survival, emerging evidence has uncovered multiple modes of intricate signal integration and obligate collaboration in driving cancer progression. These new insights provide the rationale for exploring their dual targeting in cancer.

Keywords: AKT; SMA- and MAD-related protein (SMAD) transforming growth factor-β; mammalian target of rapamycin complex; phosphatase and tensin homolog deleted on chromosome 10; phosphoinositide 3-kinase.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism*
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction*


  • Receptors, Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt