The role of B-Cell Lymphoma-3 (BCL-3) in enabling the hallmarks of cancer: implications for the treatment of colorectal carcinogenesis

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With its identification as a proto-oncogene in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and central role in regulating NF-κB signalling, it is perhaps not surprising that there have been an increasing number of studies in recent years investigating the role of BCL-3 (B-Cell Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia/Lymphoma-3) in a wide range of human cancers. Importantly, this work has begun to shed light on our mechanistic understanding of the function of BCL-3 in tumour promotion and progression. Here, we summarize the current understanding of BCL-3 function in relation to the characteristics or traits associated with tumourigenesis, termed ‘Hallmarks of Cancer’. With the focus on colorectal cancer, a major cause of cancer related mortality in the UK, we describe the evidence that potentially explains why increased BCL-3 expression is associated with poor prognosis in colorectal cancer. As well as promoting tumour cell proliferation, survival, invasion and metastasis, a key emerging function of this proto-oncogene is the regulation of the tumour response to inflammation. We suggest that BCL-3 represents an exciting new route for targeting the Hallmarks of Cancer; in particular by limiting the impact of the enabling hallmarks of tumour promoting inflammation and cell plasticity. As BCL-3 has been reported to promote the stem-like potential of cancer cells, we suggest that targeting BCL-3 could increase the tumour response to conventional treatment, reduce the chance of relapse and hence improve the prognosis for cancer patients.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberbgaa003
Number of pages8
Early online date13 Jan 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Jan 2020


  • cancer
  • colorectal cancer
  • lymphoma
  • bcl3 protein


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