Fibroblast growth factors (FGF) and their tyrosine kinase receptors (FGFR) support cell proliferation, survival and migration
during embryonic development, organogenesis and tissue maintenance and their deregulation is frequently observed in cancer development
and progression. Consequently, increasing efforts are focusing on the development of strategies to target FGF/FGFR signaling for
Among the FGFRs the family member FGFR4 is least well understood and differs from FGFRs1-3 in several aspects. Importantly,
FGFR4 deletion does not lead to an embryonic lethal phenotype suggesting the possibility that its inhibition in cancer therapy might not
cause grave adverse effects. In addition, the FGFR4 kinase domain differs sufficiently from those of FGFRs1-3 to permit development of
highly specific inhibitors. The oncogenic impact of FGFR4, however, is not undisputed, as the FGFR4-mediated hormonal effects of several
FGF ligands may also constitute a tissue-protective tumor suppressor activity especially in the liver.
Therefore it is the purpose of this review to summarize all relevant aspects of FGFR4 physiology and pathophysiology and discuss the
options of targeting this receptor for cancer therapy.