Since Notch phenotypes in Drosophila melanogaster were first identified 100 years ago, Notch signaling has been extensively characterized as a regulator of cell-fate decisions in a variety of organisms and tissues. However, in the past 20 years, accumulating evidence has linked alterations in the Notch pathway to tumorigenesis. In this review, we discuss the protumorigenic and tumor-suppressive functions of Notch signaling, and dissect the molecular mechanisms that underlie these functions in hematopoietic cancers and solid tumors. Finally, we link these mechanisms and observations to possible therapeutic strategies targeting the Notch pathway in human cancers.
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