Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) belong to the transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) family signalling pathway. Similar to TGF-β, the complex roles of BMPs in development and disease are demonstrated by their dichotomous roles in various cancers and cancer stages. Although early studies implicated BMP signalling in tumour suppressive phenotypes, the results of more recent experiments recognize BMPs as potent tumour promoters. Many of these complexities are becoming illuminated by understanding the role of BMPs in their contextual role in unique cell types of cancer and the impact of their surrounding tumour microenvironment. Here we review the emerging roles of BMP signalling in cancer, with a focus on the molecular underpinnings of BMP signalling in individual cancers as a valid therapeutic target for cancer prevention and treatment.

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