[Tumor genetic heterogeneity]

Yi-Ling Yang, Jia-You Chu, Ming-Rong Wang
Yi Chuan, Hereditas 2013, 35 (1): 1-9
Although the majority of spontaneous tumors derive from a single cell, people have come to realize intra-tumor heterogeneity of individual tumors. Human cancers frequently display substantial difference in phenotypic features, such as the degree of differentiation, cell proliferation rate, invasion and metastatic potential, response to therapy and many other aspects. Molecular biology studies have confirmed the occurrence of new mutations during the process of tumor progression, which provide more powerful evidences to show the existence of intra-tumor genetic heterogeneity. This re-view will focus on recent major advances in the study of tumor genetic heterogeneity. Considering that genetic heterogene-ity analysis can provide important information to indicate how long normal cells transform into tumor cells and how to spread and migrate, we firstly describe experimental evidences of intra-tumor genetic heterogeneity. Then we discuss the research value of genetic diversity in the evolutionary history of human individual tumor, introduce the two modes of the genetic heterogeneity - cancer stem cell model and the clonal evolution model, and summarize the implications of in-tra-tumor heterogeneity studies in metastasis and therapy. In addition, the article presents the research methods of genetic heterogeneity, including specific gene and genome-wide level, pointing out their strengths and limitations.

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