TGFβ signaling networks in ovarian cancer progression and plasticity

Asha Kumari, Zainab Shonibare, Mehri Monavarian, Rebecca C. Arend, Nam Y. Lee, Gareth J. Inman, Karthikeyan Mythreye

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) is a leading cause of cancer-related death in women. Late-stage diagnosis with significant tumor burden, accompanied by recurrence and chemotherapy resistance, contributes to this poor prognosis. These morbidities are known to be tied to events associated with epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in cancer. During EMT, localized tumor cells alter their polarity, cell–cell junctions, cell–matrix interactions, acquire motility and invasiveness and an exaggerated potential for metastatic spread. Key triggers for EMT include the Transforming Growth Factor-β (TGFβ) family of growth factors which are actively produced by a wide array of cell types within a specific tumor and metastatic environment. Although TGFβ can act as either a tumor suppressor or promoter in cancer, TGFβ exhibits its pro-tumorigenic functions at least in part via EMT. TGFβ regulates EMT both at the transcriptional and post-transcriptional levels as outlined here. Despite recent advances in TGFβ based therapeutics, limited progress has been seen for ovarian cancers that are in much need of new therapeutic strategies. Here, we summarize and discuss several recent insights into the underlying signaling mechanisms of the TGFβ isoforms in EMT in the unique metastatic environment of EOCs and the current therapeutic interventions that may be relevant.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-161
Number of pages23
JournalClinical and Experimental Metastasis
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2021


  • EMT
  • Metastasis
  • Ovarian cancer
  • TGFβ
  • Tumor microenvironment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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