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Open Access item Plasticity and Tumorigenicity

Authors:Campos-Sánchez, Elena
Sánchez García, Isidro
Cobaleda, C.
Issue Date:2011
Publisher:Université de Poitiers
Citation:Atlas of Genetics and Cytogenetics in Oncology and Haematology 16(3): 238-251 (2011)
Abstract:The research fields of developmental biology and oncology have always been tightly linked, since the times of Rudolf Virchow's cellular theory (>omnis cellula e cellula>) and embryonal rest hypothesis. On the other side, for many years, contemporary cancer research has been mainly focused on the altered controls of proliferation in tumoral cells. This has been reflected in the therapeutic approaches employed in the clinic to treat the patients: with very few exceptions, anti-cancer treatments are targeted at the mechanisms of abnormal tumoral growth. Such therapies, however, are very unspecific, highly toxic and, ultimately, inefficient in most cases. In the last years, a new recognition of the role of aberrant differentiation at the root of cancer has arisen, mainly driven by the coming of age of the >cancer stem cell> (CSC) theory. From this point of view, the comprehensive knowledge of the developmental mechanisms by which normal cells acquire their identity is essential to understand how these controls are deregulated in tumours. New insights into the mechanisms that maintain the molecular boundaries of cell identity have been gained from the study of induced pluripotency, showing that cell fate can be much more susceptible to change than previously thought. Applied to cancer, these findings imply that the oncogenic events that take place in an otherwise healthy cell lead to a reprogramming of the normal cellular fate and establish a new pathologic developmental program. Therefore, cancer reprogramming and cellular plasticity are closely related, since only some cells possess the plasticity required to allow reprogramming to occur, and only some oncogenic events can, in the right plastic cell, induce this change. Here we discuss the latest findings in the fields of cellular plasticity and reprogramming and we consider their consequences for our understanding of cancer development and treatment.
Description:This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 France Licence.
Publisher version (URL):http://dx.doi.org/10.4267/2042/47289
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/10261/62609
Identifiers:doi: 10.4267/2042/47289
issn: 1768-3262
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