Convergent mechanisms in pluripotent stem cells and cancer: Implications for stem cell engineering

Authors

  • Bridget M. Mooney,

    1. College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, NY, USA
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  • Nurazhani Abdul Raof,

    1. College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, NY, USA
    2. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
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  • Yan Li,

    1. Florida A&M University – Florida State University College of Engineering, Department of Chemical & Biomedical Engineering, Tallahassee, FL, USA
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  • Yubing Xie Ph.D.

    Corresponding author
    1. College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, NY, USA
    • College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, University at Albany, State University of New York, 257 Fuller Road, Albany, NY 12203, USA
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Abstract

Stem cells and cancer cells share certain characteristics, including the capacity to self-renew, differentiatie, and undergo epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). The mechanisms underlying tumorigenesis retain similarities with processes in normal stem cell development. Comprehensive analysis and comparison of cancer cell and stem cell development will advance the study of cancer progression, enabling development of effective strategies for cancer treatment. In this review article, we first examine the convergence of outcome, cellular communication, and signaling pathways active in pluripotent stem cells and cancer cells. Next, we detail how stem cell engineering is able to mimic in vivo microenvironments. These efforts can help better identify stem cell-cancer cell interactions, elucidated dysregulated pluripotent signaling pathways occurring in cancer, revealed new factors that restrict tumorigenesis and metastasis potential, and reprogrammed cancer cells to a less aggressive phenotype. The potential of stem cell engineering to enhance cancer research is tremendous and may lead to alternative therapeutic options for aggressive cancers.

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