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The role of FOXP3 in the development and metastatic spread of breast cancer

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Simi Ali, Dr Annette Meeson, Emeritus Professor John Kirby


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The transcription factor FOXP3 is widely known for its role in the development and function of immunoregulatory T cells. However, it has been discovered recently that FOXP3 is also expressed in epithelial cells of the normal human breast, ovary and prostate. Aggressive cancer of these epithelial tissues often correlates with abnormal expression of FOXP3, which can be either absent or underexpressed at transcript or protein levels. It is becoming clear that this failure of normal FOXP3 expression can result in dysregulation of the expression of a range of oncogenes which have been implicated in the development and metastasis of cancer. Recent evidence suggests that FOXP3 might also regulate chemokine receptor expression, providing a possible explanation for the chemokine-driven, tissue-specific spread that is characteristic of many cancers. This review first summarises the general structure, function and properties of FOXP3. This is followed by an analysis of the tumour-suppressive properties of this transcription factor, with particular reference to the development and chemokine-mediated spread of human breast cancer. A final section focuses on potential applications of this new knowledge for therapeutic intervention.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Kirby JA; Ali S; Meeson AP; Douglass S; Browell D

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Cancer and Metastasis Reviews

Year: 2012

Volume: 31

Issue: 3-4

Pages: 843-854

Print publication date: 01/12/2012

ISSN (print): 0167-7659

ISSN (electronic): 1573-7233

Publisher: SPRINGER


DOI: 10.1007/s10555-012-9395-3