Reflected stemness as a potential driver of the tumour microenvironment


A fundamental requirement for cancer initiation is the activation of developmental programmes by mutant cells. Oncogenic signals often confer an undifferentiated, stem cell-like phenotype that supports the long-term proliferative potential of cancer cells. Although cancer is a genetically driven disease, mutations in cancer-driver genes alone are insufficient for tumour formation, and the proliferation of cells harbouring oncogenic mutations depends on their microenvironment. In this Opinion article we discuss how the reprogrammed status of cancer cells not only represents the essence of their tumorigenicity but triggers 'reflected stemness' in their surrounding normal counterparts. We propose that this reciprocal interaction underpins the establishment of the tumour microenvironment (TME).

Journal details

Volume 32
Issue number 12
Pages 979-987
Available online
Publication date