Unravelling cancer stem cell potential

Abstract

The maintenance and repair of many adult tissues are ensured by stem cells (SCs), which reside at the top of the cellular hierarchy of these tissues. Functional assays, such as in vitro clonogenic assays, transplantation and in vivo lineage tracing, have been used to assess the renewing and differentiation potential of normal SCs. Similar strategies have suggested that solid tumours may also be hierarchically organized and contain cancer SCs (CSCs) that sustain tumour growth and relapse after therapy. In this Opinion article, we discuss the different parallels that can be drawn between adult SCs and CSCs in solid tumours.

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Figure 1: Hierarchy in normal tissues and tumours.
Figure 2: The different models of tumour growth.
Figure 3: The TPC assay.
Figure 4: Clonal analysis to assess the mode of tumour growth.
Figure 5: Implication of CSCs in cancer therapies and tumour relapse.

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Acknowledgements

We apologize for the works not cited in the text owing to space restriction. B.B. is a chargé de recherche of the Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique (FNRS). C.B. is an investigator of Walloon Excellence in Lifesciences and Biotechnology. C.B. is supported by the FNRS, the Interuniversity Attraction Poles programme, the ARC programme (Action de Recherche Concertée), a research grant from the Fondation Contre le Cancer, the Université Libre de Bruxelles fondation, the fond Gaston Ithier, and a starting grant from the European Research Council.

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Beck, B., Blanpain, C. Unravelling cancer stem cell potential. Nat Rev Cancer 13, 727–738 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1038/nrc3597

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