Epigenetics and metabolism at the crossroads of stress-induced plasticity, stemness and therapeutic resistance in cancer

Dinoop Ravindran Menon, Heinz Hammerlindl, Joachim Torrano, Helmut Schaider, Mayumi Fujita
Theranostics 2020, 10 (14): 6261-6277
Despite the recent advances in the treatment of cancers, acquired drug resistance remains a major challenge in cancer management. While earlier studies suggest Darwinian factors driving acquired drug resistance, recent studies point to a more dynamic process involving phenotypic plasticity and tumor heterogeneity in the evolution of acquired drug resistance. Chronic stress after drug treatment induces intrinsic cellular reprogramming and cancer stemness through a slow-cycling persister state, which subsequently drives cancer progression. Both epigenetic and metabolic mechanisms play an important role in this dynamic process. In this review, we discuss how epigenetic and metabolic reprogramming leads to stress-induced phenotypic plasticity and acquired drug resistance, and how the two reprogramming mechanisms crosstalk with each other.

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