Emerging Importance of Survivin in Stem Cells and Cancer: the Development of New Cancer Therapeutics

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Stem Cell Reviews and Reports


Survivin is one of the rare proteins that is differentially expressed in normal and cancer cells and is directly or indirectly involved in numerous pathways required for tumor maintenance. It is expressed in almost all cancers and its expression has been detected at early stages of cancer. These traits make survivin an exceptionally attractive target for cancer therapeutics. Even with these promising features to be an oncotherapeutic target, there has been limited success in the clinical trials targeting survivin. Only recently it has emerged that survivin was not being specifically targeted which could have resulted in the negative clinical outcome. Also, focus of research has now shifted from survivin expression in the overall heterogeneous tumor cell populations to survivin expression in cancer stem cells as these cells have proved to be the major drivers of tumors. Therefore, in this review we have analyzed the expression of survivin in normal and cancer cells with a particular focus on its expression in cancer stem cell compartment. We have discussed the major signaling pathways involved in regulation of survivin. We have explored the current development status of various types of interventions for inhibition of survivin. Furthermore, we have discussed the challenges involving the development of potent and specific survivin inhibitors for cancer therapeutics. Finally we have given insights for some of the promising future anticancer treatments.

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