Hanahan and Weinberg have proposed the ‘hallmarks of cancer’ to cover the biological changes required for the development and persistence of tumours [Hanahan and Weinberg (2011) Cell 144, 646–674]. We have noted that many of these cancer hallmarks are facilitated by the multifunctional protein YB-1 (Y-box-binding protein 1). In the present review we evaluate the literature and show how YB-1 modulates/regulates cellular signalling pathways within each of these hallmarks. For example, we describe how YB-1 regulates multiple proliferation pathways, overrides cell-cycle check points, promotes replicative immortality and genomic instability, may regulate angiogenesis, has a role in invasion and metastasis, and promotes inflammation. We also argue that there is strong and sufficient evidence to suggest that YB-1 is an excellent molecular marker of cancer progression that could be used in the clinic, and that YB-1 could be a useful target for cancer therapy.

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