TGF β signaling in tumor initiation, epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, and metastasis
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Retaining the delicate balance in cell signaling activity is a prerequisite for the maintenance of physiological tissue homeostasis. Transforming growth factor-beta (TGFβ) signaling is an essential pathway that plays crucial roles during embryonic development as well as in adult tissues. Aberrant TGFβ signaling activity regulates tumor progression in a cancer cell-autonomous or non-cell-autonomous fashion and these effects may be tumor suppressing or tumor promoting depending on the cellular context. The fundamental role of this pathway in promoting cancer progression in multiple stages of the metastatic process, including epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), is also becoming increasingly clear. In this review, we discuss the latest advances in the effort to unravel the inherent complexity of TGFβ signaling and its role in cancer progression and metastasis. These findings provide important insights into designing personalized therapeutic strategies against advanced cancers.