Vav1: A Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde protein – good for the hematopoietic system, bad for cancer

Shulamit Katzav _

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:28731-28742. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.5086

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Shulamit Katzav1

1Developmental Biology and Cancer Research, IMRIC, Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem, Israel

Correspondence to:

Shulamit Katzav-Shapira, e-mail: [email protected]

Keywords: Vav1, Rac, GEF, RhoGTPases, Cancer

Received: June 21, 2015     Accepted: August 07, 2015     Published: August 20, 2015


Many deregulated signal transducer proteins are involved in various cancers at numerous stages of tumor development. One of these, Vav1, is normally expressed exclusively in the hematopoietic system, where it functions as a specific GDP/GTP nucleotide exchange factor (GEF), strictly regulated by tyrosine phosphorylation. Vav was first identified in an NIH3T3 screen for oncogenes. Although the oncogenic form of Vav1 identified in the screen has not been detected in clinical human tumors, its wild-type form has recently been implicated in mammalian malignancies, including neuroblastoma, melanoma, pancreatic, lung and breast cancers, and B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia. In addition, it was recently identified as a mutated gene in human cancers of various origins. However, the activity and contribution to cancer of these Vav1 mutants is still unclear. This review addresses the physiological function of wild-type Vav1 and its activity as an oncogene in human cancer. It also discusses the novel mutations identified in Vav1 in various cancers and their potential contribution to cancer development as oncogenes or tumor suppressor genes.

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