SMAD3 Activation: A Converging Point of Dysregulated TGF-Beta Superfamily Signaling and Genetic Aberrations in Granulosa Cell Tumor Development?1

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Abstract

Ovarian granulosa cell tumors (GCTs) are rare gynecologic tumors in women. Due to the rarity and limited research efforts invested, the etiology of GCTs remains poorly defined. A landmark study has discovered the mutation of forkhead box L2 (FOXL2) as a genetic hallmark of adult GCTs in the human. However, our understanding of the role of cell signaling in GCT development is far from complete. Increasing lines of evidence highlight the importance of TGF-beta (TGFB) superfamily signaling in the pathogenesis of GCTs. This review draws on findings using genetically modified mouse models and human patient specimens and cell lines to reveal SMAD3 activation as a potentially key converging point of dysregulated TGFB superfamily signaling and genetic aberrations in GCT development. It is anticipated that deciphering the role of TGFB superfamily signaling cascades in ovarian tumorigenesis will help develop new therapeutic approaches for GCTs by targeting core signaling elements essential for tumor initiation, growth, and progression.

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