, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 126-137
Date: 27 Mar 2009

Biology of BMP signalling and cancer

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In recent years, it has been proposed that tumours are not homogeneous but composed of several cellular types like normal tissues. A cellular subtype, which is though to be the origin of tumours as well as their malignant properties (i.e., capacity for regrowth and metastasis), are the cancer stem cells (CSCs). CSCs, like normal stem cells, have a nearly unlimited capacity to self-renew and to proliferate so that are responsible, besides their same auto-perpetuation giving rise to the features previously depicted, also for the generation of the bulk of more differentiated cells in tumour. The altered behaviour of CSCs may be caused by the malfunction of a number of signalling pathways involved in normal embryonic development and in tissue homeostasis in adulthood. Among these signalling pathways are Wnt, Hedgehog, Notch and BMP pathways. In this review, we will focus on the study of molecular aspects of BMP signalling as well as its involvement in cancer.