An evolutionary explanation for the presence of cancer nonstem cells in neoplasms
Article first published online: 26 NOV 2012
© 2012 The Authors. Evolutionary Applications published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Special Issue: Evolution and Cancer
Volume 6, Issue 1, pages 92–101, January 2013
How to Cite
Sprouffske, K., Athena Aktipis, C., Radich, J. P., Carroll, M., Nedelcu, A. M. and Maley, C. C. (2013), An evolutionary explanation for the presence of cancer nonstem cells in neoplasms. Evolutionary Applications, 6: 92–101. doi: 10.1111/eva.12030
- Issue published online: 21 JAN 2013
- Article first published online: 26 NOV 2012
- Manuscript Accepted: 11 OCT 2012
- Manuscript Revised: 29 SEP 2012
- Manuscript Received: 16 JUL 2012
- National Institutes of Health . Grant Numbers: CA140657, HG000046, CA18029, CA144331, CA137811, CA91955, CA010815, CA119224
- the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
- the Pew Charitable Trust
- the Martha W. Rodgers Charitable Trust
- a McLean Contributionship
- the Landon AACR Innovator Award for Cancer Prevention
- the American Cancer Society Research Scholar Grant. Grant Number: 117209-RSG-09-163-01-CNE
Contrary to conventional views that assume all cells in a neoplasm can propagate the tumor, the cancer stem cell hypothesis posits that only a fraction of the cells (the cancer stem cells) can act as tumor-propagating cells, while most of the tumor is composed of cells with limited replication potential. Here, we offer an evolutionary approach to this controversy. We used several evolutionary, computational models to investigate cancer cell dynamics and conditions consistent with the stem cell hypothesis. Our models predict that if selection acts at the cell level, neoplasms should be primarily comprised of cancer stem cells, in contrast to experimental data indicating that neoplasms contain large fractions of cancer nonstem cells. We explore several solutions explaining the paradoxical existence of cancer nonstem cells in neoplasms, including the possibility that selection acts at the level of multicellular proliferative units.