Notch Signaling in Cancer Stem Cells Stem cells are characterized by two unique properties: self-renewal and multilineage differentiation potential. Self-renewal provides the cell with the ability to go through numerous cycles of cell division, while maintaining a stem cell population through asymmetric cell division. For each division, a stem cell divides into two cells: another stem cell and a progenitor cell. It is thought that the stem cell retains the stem cell characteristics, while the progenitor cell can differentiate into tissue-specific cells within a limited number of cell divisions. Embryonic stem cells are active during embryonic differentiation and develop into all of the tissues in the body. Adult stem cells can be found in differentiated tissues and can differentiate into the entirety of cell types in the tissue from which they originate. Normal stem cells are transformed into cancer stem cells by acquiring somatic mutations in oncogenes or tumor suppressor genes. Cancer stem cells share stem cell properties with embryonic stem cells such as self-renewal and differentiation potential. Evidence suggests that many cancers, including leukemia, breast cancer, and glioma, contain a rare population of cells that are highly tumorigenic, in contrast to the bulk of cancer cells that have a limited capacity to form tumors in vivo. Cancer stem cells proliferate slowly, have indefinite self-replication ability, and are highly resistant to chemotherapy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)