Davis H, Raja E, Miyazono K, Tsubakihara Y, Moustakas A
Cytokine Growth Factor Rev. 27 (-) 81-92 [2016-02-00; online 2015-11-24]
The bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) play fundamental roles in embryonic development and control differentiation of a diverse set of cell types. It is therefore of no surprise that the BMPs also contribute to the process of tumourigenesis and regulate cancer progression through various stages. We summarise here key roles of BMP ligands, receptors, their signalling mediators, mainly focusing on proteins of the Smad family, and extracellular antagonists, that contribute to the onset of tumourigenesis and to cancer progression in diverse tissues. Overall, the BMP pathways seem to act as tumour suppressors that maintain physiological tissue homeostasis and which are perturbed in cancer either via genetic mutation or via epigenetic misregulation of key gene components. BMPs also control the self-renewal and fate choices made by stem cells in several tissues. By promoting cell differentiation, including inhibition of the process of epithelial-mesenchymal transition, BMPs contribute to the malignant progression of cancer at advanced stages. It is therefore reasonable that pharmaceutical industries continuously develop biological agents and chemical modulators of BMP signalling with the aim to improve therapeutic regimes against several types of cancer.