Signaling pathways have become a major source of targets for novel therapies in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Survival benefits achieved with sorafenib, a multikinase inhibitor, are unprecedented and underscore the importance of improving our understanding of how signaling networks interact in transformed cells. Numerous signaling modules are de-regulated in HCC, including some related to growth factor signaling (e.g., IGF, EGF, PDGF, FGF, HGF), cell differentiation (WNT, Hedgehog, Notch), and angiogenesis (VEGF). Intracellular mediators such as RAS and AKT/MTOR may also play a role in HCC development and progression. Different molecular mechanisms have been shown to induce aberrant pathway activation. These include point mutations, chromosomal aberrations, and epigenetically driven down-regulation. The use of novel molecular technologies such as next-generation sequencing in HCC research has enabled the identification of novel pathways previously underexplored in the HCC field, such as chromatin remodeling and autophagy. Considering recent failures of molecular therapies in advanced clinical trials (e.g., sunitinib, brivanib), survey of these and other new pathways may provide alternative therapeutic targets.

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