Targeting Oncogenic Pathways in the Era of Personalized Oncology: A Systemic Analysis Reveals Highly Mutated Signaling Pathways in Cancer Patients and Potential Therapeutic Targets

Cancers (Basel). 2022 Jan 28;14(3):664. doi: 10.3390/cancers14030664.


Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally. One of the main hallmarks in cancer is the functional deregulation of crucial molecular pathways via driver genetic events that lead to abnormal gene expression, giving cells a selective growth advantage. Driver events are defined as mutations, fusions and copy number alterations that are causally implicated in oncogenesis. Molecular analysis on tissues that have originated from a wide range of anatomical areas has shown that mutations in different members of several pathways are implicated in different cancer types. In recent decades, significant efforts have been made to incorporate this knowledge into daily medical practice, providing substantial insight towards clinical diagnosis and personalized therapies. However, since there is still a strong need for more effective drug development, a deep understanding of the involved signaling mechanisms and the interconnections between these pathways is highly anticipated. Here, we perform a systemic analysis on cancer patients included in the Pan-Cancer Atlas project, with the aim to select the ten most highly mutated signaling pathways (p53, RTK-RAS, lipids metabolism, PI-3-Kinase/Akt, ubiquitination, b-catenin/Wnt, Notch, cell cycle, homology directed repair (HDR) and splicing) and to provide a detailed description of each pathway, along with the corresponding therapeutic applications currently being developed or applied. The ultimate scope is to review the current knowledge on highly mutated pathways and to address the attractive perspectives arising from ongoing experimental studies for the clinical implementation of personalized medicine.

Keywords: NGS; cancer patients; clinical implementation; molecular oncology; mutations; precision medicine; tumor.

Publication types

  • Review