Unraveling the Mysteries of PAX8 in Reproductive Tract Cancers

Cancer Res. 2021 Feb 15;81(4):806-810. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-20-3173. Epub 2020 Dec 23.


Paired Box 8 (PAX8) is a lineage-specific transcription factor that has essential roles during embryogenesis and tumorigenesis. The importance of PAX8 in the development of the reproductive system is highlighted by abnormalities observed upon the loss or mutation of this PAX family member. In cancer, PAX8 expression is deregulated in a key set of neoplasms, including those arising from the Müllerian ducts. The roles of PAX8 in oncogenesis are diverse and include epigenetic remodeling, stimulation of proliferation, inhibition of apoptosis, and regulation of angiogenesis. PAX8 can interact with different protein partners during cancer progression and may exhibit significant function-altering alternative splicing. Moreover, expression of PAX8 in cancer can also serve as a biomarker for diagnostic and prognostic purposes. In this review, we focus on the roles of PAX8 in cancers of the reproductive system. Understanding the diverse mechanisms of action of PAX8 in development and oncogenesis may identify new vulnerabilities in malignancies that currently lack effective therapies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Carcinogenesis / genetics
  • Female
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / diagnosis
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / genetics*
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / pathology
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / therapy
  • Genital Neoplasms, Male / diagnosis
  • Genital Neoplasms, Male / genetics*
  • Genital Neoplasms, Male / pathology
  • Genital Neoplasms, Male / therapy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy / methods
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy / trends
  • PAX8 Transcription Factor / physiology*
  • Prognosis


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • PAX8 Transcription Factor
  • PAX8 protein, human