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Cancer stem cell–immune cell crosstalk in tumour progression

Abstract

Cellular heterogeneity and an immunosuppressive tumour microenvironment are independent yet synergistic drivers of tumour progression and underlie therapeutic resistance. Recent studies have highlighted the complex interaction between these cell-intrinsic and cell-extrinsic mechanisms. The reciprocal communication between cancer stem cells (CSCs) and infiltrating immune cell populations in the tumour microenvironment is a paradigm for these interactions. In this Perspective, we discuss the signalling programmes that simultaneously induce CSCs and reprogramme the immune response to facilitate tumour immune evasion, metastasis and recurrence. We further highlight biological factors that can impact the nature of CSC–immune cell communication. Finally, we discuss targeting opportunities for simultaneous regulation of the CSC niche and immunosurveillance.

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Fig. 1: A unique set of mediators informs the communication between cancer stem cells and innate immune cell populations.
Fig. 2: CSCs interfere with T cell activity directly or through immunosuppressive myeloid cells.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank E. Mulkearns-Hubert for editorial assistance. Work in the Lathia laboratory is supported by the Cleveland Clinic, Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, the American Brain Tumor Association, the US National Brain Tumor Society and the NIH (R01 NS109742, R01 NS117104 and P01 CA245705 (J.L.) and F32CA243314 and K99CA248611 (D.B.)).

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Bayik, D., Lathia, J.D. Cancer stem cell–immune cell crosstalk in tumour progression. Nat Rev Cancer 21, 526–536 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41568-021-00366-w

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