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Open Access Review

The emerging roles of Notch signaling in leukemia and stem cells

Na Liu, Jingru Zhang and Chunyan Ji*

Author Affiliations

Department of Hematology, Qilu Hospital, Shandong University, 107 West Wenhua Road, Jinan, Shandong 250012, P. R. China

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Biomarker Research 2013, 1:23  doi:10.1186/2050-7771-1-23

Published: 18 July 2013

Abstract

The Notch signaling pathway plays a critical role in maintaining the balance between cell proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis, and is a highly conserved signaling pathway that regulates normal development in a context- and dose-dependent manner. Dysregulation of Notch signaling has been suggested to be key events in a variety of hematological malignancies. Notch1 signaling appears to be the central oncogenic trigger in T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL), in which the majority of human malignancies have acquired mutations that lead to constitutive activation of Notch1 signaling. However, emerging evidence unexpectedly demonstrates that Notch signaling can function as a potent tumor suppressor in other forms of leukemia. This minireview will summarize recent advances related to the roles of activated Notch signaling in human lymphocytic leukemia, myeloid leukemia, stem cells and stromal microenvironment, and we will discuss the perspectives of Notch signaling as a potential therapeutic target as well.