Frontiers in Bioscience-Landmark (FBL) is published by IMR Press from Volume 26 Issue 5 (2021). Previous articles were published by another publisher on a subscription basis, and they are hosted by IMR Press on imrpress.com as a courtesy and upon agreement with Frontiers in Bioscience.
Circulating tumour cells (CTCs) are shed into the bloodstream from both primary and secondary tumours and provide a non-invasive means to study tumor progression and response to treatment. Assessment of ribonucleic acid (RNA) and monitoring dynamic changes in gene expression profiles of CTCs extends their clinical and prognostic power and establish their role in guiding treatment. Among these methods, droplet digital (RT-ddPCR) technique provides a high sensitivity and detectibility of CTCs. RNA-sequencing (RNAseq) is the most comprehensive method, that would allow the simultaneous measurement of a large number of genes and theoretically the whole transcriptome. Since CTCs are heterogeneous in nature, single cell RNAseq methods are very valuable in assessing population dynamics and functional states of CTCs. While RNA in situ hybridization (RNA-ISH) is used relatively less frequently, it also allows for the assessment of expression of multiple genes within individual CTCs. Epithelial to Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) or Plasticity (EMP) is a major contributor to metastasis, providing a mechanism to allow cells to become migratory and invasive, and to survive in the bloodstream. Monitoring CTCs undergoing EMT may lead to improvement in their prognostic and predictive power. Here, we review various RNA analysis of CTCs and those that undergo EMT and their application in diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of cancers.