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Cancers 2015, 7(1), 70-91; doi:10.3390/cancers7010070

Intertwining of Activin A and TGFβ Signaling: Dual Roles in Cancer Progression and Cancer Cell Invasion

1
Department of Cancer Biology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN 37232, USA
2
Department of Surgery, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN 37232, USA
3
Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN 37232, USA
4
Vanderbilt Digestive Disease Center, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN 37232, USA
5
Vanderbilt Epithelial Biology Center, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN 37232, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Scott A. Weed
Received: 7 October 2014 / Accepted: 23 December 2014 / Published: 30 December 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cancer Cell Invasion)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [1114 KB, uploaded 30 December 2014]   |  

Abstract

In recent years, a significant amount of research has examined the controversial role of activin A in cancer. Activin A, a member of the transforming growth factor β (TGFβ) superfamily, is best characterized for its function during embryogenesis in mesoderm cell fate differentiation and reproduction. During embryogenesis, TGFβ superfamily ligands, TGFβ, bone morphogenic proteins (BMPs) and activins, act as potent morphogens. Similar to TGFβs and BMPs, activin A is a protein that is highly systemically expressed during early embryogenesis; however, post-natal expression is overall reduced and remains under strict spatiotemporal regulation. Of importance, normal post-natal expression of activin A has been implicated in the migration and invasive properties of various immune cell types, as well as endometrial cells. Aberrant activin A signaling during development results in significant morphological defects and premature mortality. Interestingly, activin A has been found to have both oncogenic and tumor suppressor roles in cancer. Investigations into the role of activin A in prostate and breast cancer has demonstrated tumor suppressive effects, while in lung and head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, it has been consistently shown that activin A expression is correlated with increased proliferation, invasion and poor patient prognosis. Activin A signaling is highly context-dependent, which is demonstrated in studies of epithelial cell tumors and the microenvironment. This review discusses normal activin A signaling in comparison to TGFb and highlights how its dysregulation contributes to cancer progression and cell invasion. View Full-Text
Keywords: TGFb; activin A; cell adhesion; cell migration; EMT; cancer TGFb; activin A; cell adhesion; cell migration; EMT; cancer
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Loomans, H.A.; Andl, C.D. Intertwining of Activin A and TGFβ Signaling: Dual Roles in Cancer Progression and Cancer Cell Invasion. Cancers 2015, 7, 70-91.

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