An emerging role for cellular crosstalk in the cancer stem cell niche

Naoki Oshimori, Yifei Guo, Sachiko Taniguchi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Although cumulative genetic and epigenetic changes in cancer cells are correlated with tumor malignancy, accumulating evidence supports that tumor cell-extrinsic mechanisms play an essential role in driving tumor progression. The tissue architecture surrounding tumor cells evolves during disease progression and becomes a significant barrier to cancer treatments. The functional traits of the tumor microenvironment (TME), either tumor suppressive or supportive, are defined by the distribution of various stromal cells and their sequential and reciprocal cellular interactions. Recent studies have uncovered a significant heterogeneity in stromal cells and identified specific subpopulations correlated with clinical outcomes, providing novel insights into the complex TME system that drives tumor progression and therapy resistance. Moreover, a small population of tumor cells with tumor-initiating and drug-resistant capabilities, cancer stem cells (CSCs), is maintained by the specialized TME, the so-called CSC niche. The crosstalk between CSCs and niche cells is an attractive avenue for identifying the vulnerability of difficult-to-treat cancers. Here, we review the recent advance in understanding TME biology and its impact on CSCs. We then focus on a newly identified niche signaling loop by which CSCs promote malignant progression and drug resistance of squamous cell carcinoma. The CSC niche is a promising research field that needs more attention and could facilitate the development of durable cancer treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)384-394
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Pathology
Volume254
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2021

Keywords

  • CSC niche
  • IL-33
  • TGF-β
  • cancer progression
  • cancer stem cells (CSCs)
  • cellular crosstalk
  • drug resistance
  • macrophages
  • tumor microenvironment (TME)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

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