Transforming growth factor-beta (TGFB) is a critical regulator of normal haematopoiesis. Dysregulation of the TGFB pathway is associated with numerous haematological malignancies including myelofibrosis, acute myeloid leukaemia, and lymphoid disorders. TGFB has classically been seen as a negative regulator of proliferation in haematopoiesis whilst stimulating differentiation and apoptosis, as required to maintain homeostasis. Tumours frequently develop intrinsic resistant mechanisms to homeostatic TGFB signalling to antagonise its tumour-suppressive functions. Furthermore, elevated levels of TGFB enhance pathogenesis through modulation of the immune system and tumour microenvironment. Here, we review recent advances in the understanding of TGFB signalling in B-cell malignancies with a focus on the tumour microenvironment. Malignant B-cells harbour subtype-specific alterations in TGFB signalling elements including downregulation of surface receptors, modulation of SMAD signalling proteins, as well as genetic and epigenetic aberrations. Microenvironmental TGFB generates a protumoural niche reprogramming stromal, natural killer (NK), and T-cells. Increasingly, evidence points to complex bi-directional cross-talk between cells of the microenvironment and malignant B-cells. A greater understanding of intercellular communication and the context-specific nature of TGFB signalling may provide further insight into disease pathogenesis and future therapeutic strategies.
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.