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The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/2001-1326-3-19) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
The authors declare that they have no commercial or other competing interests to disclose.
The author KW performed the research, writing, and revisions of the manuscript. Additionally, author KW created the figures and tables. The authors KW and JU contributed equally to the revisions of the manuscript and figures. Both authors read and approved the final manuscript.
SOX2 is a gene that encodes for a transcription factor belonging to the SOX gene family and contains a high-mobility group (HMG) domain, which permits highly specific DNA binding. Consequently, SOX2 functions as an activator or suppressor of gene transcription. SOX2 has been described as an essential embryonic stem cell gene and moreover, a necessary factor for induced cellular reprogramming. SOX2 research has only recently switched focus from embryogenesis and development to SOX2’s function in disease. Particularly, the role of SOX2 in cancer pathogenesis has become of interest in the field. To date, studies have shown SOX2 to be amplified in various cancer types and affect cancer cell physiology via involvement in complicated cell signaling and protein-protein interactions. Recent reviews in this field have highlighted SOX2 in mammalian physiology, development and pathology. In this review, we comprehensively compile what is known to date about SOX2’s involvement in cancer biology, focusing on the most recent findings in the fields of cellular signaling and cancer stem cells. Lastly, we underscore the role of SOX2 in the clinic and highlight new findings, which may provide novel clinical applications for SOX2 as a prognostic marker, indicator of metastasis, biomarker or potential therapeutic target in some cancer types.