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Cell cycle heterogeneity and plasticity of colorectal cancer stem cells.

Cancer Science 2024 Februrary 28
Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are a long-lived and self-renewing cancer cell population that drives tumor propagation and maintains cancer heterogeneity. They are also implicated in the therapeutic resistance of various types of cancer. Recent studies of CSCs in colorectal cancer (CRC) have uncovered fundamental paradigms that have increased understanding of CSC systems in solid tumors. Colorectal CSCs share multiple biological properties with normal intestinal stem cells (ISCs), including expression of the stem cell marker Lgr5. New evidence suggests that colorectal CSCs manifest substantial heterogeneity, as exemplified by the existence of both actively cycling Lgr5+ CSCs as well as quiescent Lgr5+ CSCs that are resistant to conventional anticancer therapies. The classical view of a rigid cell hierarchy and irreversible cell differentiation trajectory in normal and neoplastic tissues is now challenged by the finding that differentiated cells have the capacity to revert to stem cells through dynamic physiological reprogramming events. Such plasticity of CSC systems likely underlies both carcinogenesis and therapeutic resistance in CRC. Further characterization of the mechanisms underpinning the heterogeneity and plasticity of CSCs should inform future development of eradicative therapeutic strategies for CRC.

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