Stem Cell Reviews

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 7–17 | Cite as

Signaling Pathways in Cancer and Embryonic Stem Cells

  • Oliver Dreesen
  • Ali H. BrivanlouEmail author


Cancer cells have the ability to divide indefinitely and spread to different parts of the body during metastasis. Embryonic stem cells can self-renew and, through differentiation to somatic cells, provide the building blocks of the human body. Embryonic stem cells offer tremendous opportunities for regenerative medicine and serve as an excellent model system to study early human development. Many of the molecular mechanism underlying tumorigenesis in cancer and self-renewal in stem cells have been elucidated in the past decade. Here we present a systematic analysis of seven major signaling pathways implicated in both cancer and stem cells. We present on overview of the JAK/STAT, Notch, MAPK/ERK, PI3K/AKT, NF-kB, Wnt and TGF-β pathways and analyze their activation status in the context of cancer and stem cells. We focus on their role in stem cell self-renewal and development and identify key molecules, whose aberrant expression has been associated with malignant phenotypes. We conclude by presenting a map of the signaling networks involved in cancer and embryonic stem cells.


Stem cells Cancer Signaling pathways JAK/STAT Notch MAPK/ERK PI3K/AKT NF-κB Wnt TGF-β 



We are grateful to the members of the Brivanlou lab, in particular Scott Noggle, Ariel Levine and Blaine Cooper for helpful discussions and assistance during the preparation of this manuscript. Andre Hoelz is acknowledged for inspiring discussions. This work was supported by NIH grant GM073370 to A.H. B. and a Zuckerman family postdoctoral fellowship to O.D.


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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Molecular Vertebrate EmbryologyThe Rockefeller UniversityNew YorkUSA

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