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      EMT, CSCs, and drug resistance: the mechanistic link and clinical implications

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      Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology
      Springer Nature

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          Abstract

          According to the cancer stem cell (CSC) paradigm, a minor subpopulation of cancer cells with stem-cell properties predominantly underlies tumour progression, therapy resistance, and disease recurrence. Notably, epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is implicated in these processes, and CSCs typically show markers of EMT-programme activation. Herein, the authors outline our current understanding of the links between the EMT programme, the CSC phenotype, metastasis, and drug resistance, and discuss the potential for therapeutic targeting of these facets of tumour biology.

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          Most cited references85

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          Evolution of the cancer stem cell model.

          Genetic analyses have shaped much of our understanding of cancer. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that cancer cells display features of normal tissue organization, where cancer stem cells (CSCs) can drive tumor growth. Although often considered as mutually exclusive models to describe tumor heterogeneity, we propose that the genetic and CSC models of cancer can be harmonized by considering the role of genetic diversity and nongenetic influences in contributing to tumor heterogeneity. We offer an approach to integrating CSCs and cancer genetic data that will guide the field in interpreting past observations and designing future studies. Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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            Identification of selective inhibitors of cancer stem cells by high-throughput screening.

            Screens for agents that specifically kill epithelial cancer stem cells (CSCs) have not been possible due to the rarity of these cells within tumor cell populations and their relative instability in culture. We describe here an approach to screening for agents with epithelial CSC-specific toxicity. We implemented this method in a chemical screen and discovered compounds showing selective toxicity for breast CSCs. One compound, salinomycin, reduces the proportion of CSCs by >100-fold relative to paclitaxel, a commonly used breast cancer chemotherapeutic drug. Treatment of mice with salinomycin inhibits mammary tumor growth in vivo and induces increased epithelial differentiation of tumor cells. In addition, global gene expression analyses show that salinomycin treatment results in the loss of expression of breast CSC genes previously identified by analyses of breast tissues isolated directly from patients. This study demonstrates the ability to identify agents with specific toxicity for epithelial CSCs.
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              Intrinsic resistance of tumorigenic breast cancer cells to chemotherapy.

              Tumorigenic breast cancer cells that express high levels of CD44 and low or undetectable levels of CD24 (CD44(>)/CD24(>/low)) may be resistant to chemotherapy and therefore responsible for cancer relapse. These tumorigenic cancer cells can be isolated from breast cancer biopsies and propagated as mammospheres in vitro. In this study, we aimed to test directly in human breast cancers the effect of conventional chemotherapy or lapatinib (an epidermal growth factor receptor [EGFR]/HER2 pathway inhibitor) on this tumorigenic CD44(>) and CD24(>/low) cell population. Paired breast cancer core biopsies were obtained from patients with primary breast cancer before and after 12 weeks of treatment with neoadjuvant chemotherapy (n = 31) or, for patients with HER2-positive tumors, before and after 6 weeks of treatment with the EGFR/HER2 inhibitor lapatinib (n = 21). Single-cell suspensions established from these biopsies were stained with antibodies against CD24, CD44, and lineage markers and analyzed by flow cytometry. The potential of cells from biopsy samples taken before and after treatment to form mammospheres in culture was compared. All statistical tests were two-sided. Chemotherapy treatment increased the percentage of CD44(>)/CD24(>/low) cells (mean at baseline vs 12 weeks, 4.7%, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 3.5% to 5.9%, vs 13.6%, 95% CI = 10.9% to 16.3%; P )/CD24(>/low) cells (mean at baseline vs 6 weeks, 10.0%, 95% CI = 7.2% to 12.8%, vs 7.5%, 95% CI = 4.1% to 10.9%) and a statistically non-significant decrease in MSFE (mean at baseline vs 6 weeks, 16.1%, 95% CI = 8.7% to 23.5%, vs 10.8%, 95% CI = 4.0% to 17.6%). These studies provide clinical evidence for a subpopulation of chemotherapy-resistant breast cancer-initiating cells. Lapatinib did not lead to an increase in these tumorigenic cells, and, in combination with conventional therapy, specific pathway inhibitors may provide a therapeutic strategy for eliminating these cells to decrease recurrence and improve long-term survival.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology
                Nat Rev Clin Oncol
                Springer Nature
                1759-4774
                1759-4782
                April 11 2017
                April 11 2017
                :
                :
                Article
                10.1038/nrclinonc.2017.44
                5720366
                28397828
                f23aaab9-e63d-494e-9c2a-41d810aba8dd
                © 2017

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