Breast Cancer

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 118–124 | Cite as

The roles of TGF-β signaling in carcinogenesis and breast cancer metastasis

  • Takeshi ImamuraEmail author
  • Atsuhiko Hikita
  • Yasumichi Inoue
Special Feature Should we treat minimal breast cancer lesions?


Transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) ligand is a multifunctional growth factor that regulates various cell behavior, such as cell proliferation, differentiation, migration, and apoptosis. Because TGF-β is a potent growth inhibitor, abnormalities in TGF-β signaling result in carcinogenesis. In addition to tumor suppressor function, TGF-β acts as an oncogenic factor. In particular, TGF-β signaling plays an important role during metastasis of breast cancer. Recently, epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) has been shown to confer malignant properties such as cell motility and invasiveness to cancer cells and plays crucial roles during cancer metastasis. Moreover, breast stem-like cells exhibit EMT properties. Because TGF-β is a potent regulator of EMT as well as cell stemness, TGF-β signaling might play a crucial role in the regulation of breast cancer stem cells.


TGF-β Breast cancer Metastasis Cancer stem cell 



There are many important papers in this field, and for reasons of space, we have not been able to mention all of them. We apologize to those investigators whose papers could not be cited. This work was supported by KAKENHI (Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research) from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan. T.I. was supported by the Takeda Science Foundation.


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Copyright information

© The Japanese Breast Cancer Society 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Takeshi Imamura
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Atsuhiko Hikita
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yasumichi Inoue
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Molecular Medicine for PathogenesisEhime University Graduate School of MedicineToonJapan
  2. 2.Core Research for Evolutional Science and Technology (CREST)Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST)ToonJapan
  3. 3.Department of Drug Metabolism and Disposition, Graduate School of Pharmaceutical SciencesNagoya City UniversityNagoyaJapan

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