Tyagi A, et al. Cells 2020 - Review.
Colorectal cancer (CRC) has one of the highest mortality rates despite the advancement of treatment options. Aggressive CRC remains difficult to treat owing to the activation of oncogenic signaling pathways such as the Notch signaling pathway. The role of Notch receptors varies according to the difference in their structures; in particular, aberrant activation of Notch1 has been attributed to the severity of CRC. Notch1 activation in CRC is inhibited by small molecule inhibitors that target
γ-secretase, an enzyme responsible for the third and last cleavage step of Notch receptors. γ-Secretase also produces the intracellular domain that finally carries out cellular functions by activating downstream effectors. However, most inhibitors block γ-secretase non-selectively and cause severe toxicity. Plant-source-derived small molecules, monoclonal antibodies, biological molecules (such as SiRNAs), and compounds targeting the Notch1 receptor itself or the downstream molecules such as HES1 are some of the options that are in advanced stages of clinical trials. The Negative Regulatory Region (NRR), which plays a central role in the transduction of Notch1 signaling in the event of ligand-dependent and ligand-independent Notch1 processing is also being targeted specifically by monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) to prevent aberrant Notch1 activation. In this review, we discuss the role of Notch1 in CRC, particularly its metastatic phenotype, and how mutations in Notch1, specifically in its NRR region, contribute to the aberrant activation of Notch1 signaling, which, in turn, contributes to CRC pathogenesis. We also discuss prevailing and emerging therapies that target the Notch1 receptor and the NRR region, and we highlight the potential of these therapies in abrogating Notch signaling and, thus, CRC development and progression.