Odyssey of trefoil factors in cancer: Diagnostic and therapeutic implications

Rahat Jahan, Ashu Shah, Sophia G. Kisling, Muzafar A. Macha, Sarah Thayer, Surinder K. Batra, Sukhwinder Kaur

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Trefoil factors 1, 2, and 3 (TFFs) are a family of small secretory molecules involved in the protection and repair of the gastrointestinal tract (GI). TFFs maintain and restore epithelial structural integrity via transducing key signaling pathways for epithelial cell migration, proliferation, and invasion. In recent years, TFFs have emerged as key players in the pathogenesis of multiple diseases, especially cancer. Initially recognized as tumor suppressors, emerging evidence demonstrates their key role in tumor progression and metastasis, extending their actions beyond protection. However, to date, a comprehensive understanding of TFFs’ mechanism of action in tumor initiation, progression and metastasis remains obscure. The present review discusses the structural, functional and mechanistic implications of all three TFF family members in tumor progression and metastasis. Also, we have garnered information from studies on their structure and expression status in different organs, along with lessons from their specific knockout in mouse models. In addition, we highlight the emerging potential of using TFFs as a biomarker to stratify tumors for better therapeutic intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number188362
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Reviews on Cancer
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2020


  • Biomarker
  • Cancer
  • Cancer subtype
  • Cell signaling
  • Mouse model
  • Precancerous lesion
  • TFF1
  • TFF2
  • TFF3
  • Trefoil factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research


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