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c-Rel and its many roles in cancer: an old story with new twists

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Jill Hunter, Jack Leslie, Professor Neil PerkinsORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).


When the genes encoding NF-kappa B subunits were first isolated, their homology to the previously identified c-Rel proto-oncogene and its viral homologue v-Rel was clear. This provided the first indication that these transcription factors also had a role in cancer. Because of its homology to v-Rel, which transforms chicken B cells together with the important role c-Rel can have as a regulator of B- and T-cell proliferation, most attention has focussed on its role in B-cell lymphomas, where the REL gene is frequently amplified. However, a growing number of reports now indicate that c-Rel has important functions in many solid tumours, although studies in mice suggest it may not always function as an oncogene. Moreover, c-Rel is a critical regulator of fibrosis, which provides an environment for tumour development in many settings. Overall, c-Rel is emerging as a complex regulator of tumorigenesis, and there is still much to learn about its functions in human malignancies and the response to cancer therapies.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Hunter JE, Leslie J, Perkins ND

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: British Journal of Cancer

Year: 2016

Volume: 114

Issue: 1

Pages: 1-6

Print publication date: 01/01/2016

Online publication date: 12/01/2016

Acceptance date: 05/10/2015

ISSN (print): 0007-0920

ISSN (electronic): 1532-1827



DOI: 10.1038/bjc.2015.410