IMR Press / FBS / Volume 4 / Issue 3 / DOI: 10.2741/S302

Frontiers in Bioscience-Scholar (FBS) is published by IMR Press from Volume 13 Issue 1 (2021). Previous articles were published by another publisher on a subscription basis, and they are hosted by IMR Press on as a courtesy and upon agreement with Frontiers in Bioscience.

The origin of cancer stem cells
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1 Department of Medical Microbiology, Immunology, and Cell Biology, Simmons Cancer Institute, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. 913 N. Rutledge Street, Springfield, IL 62794, USA

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.


Front. Biosci. (Schol Ed) 2012, 4(3), 819–830;
Published: 1 January 2012

Cancer stem cells (CSCs), also known as tumor-initiating cells (TICs), are cancer cells that possess capability of proliferation, differentiation, and self-renewal. It is widely believed that CSCs play critical role in the initiation, metastasis, and relapse of cancers, but the origin of CSCs remains unclear. Up to date, several hypotheses have been described, and cell fusion and horizontal gene transfer, which may occur during development and tissue repair process, are considered as important origins of CSCs. In addition, critical gene mutations in stem cells, progenitor cells or even differentiated cells may also contribute to the formation of CSCs, and cell microenvironment is critical to CSC self-renewal and differentiation. The ongoing efforts to identify the CSCs origins may shed more light on understanding of cancer initiation and progression, as well as the development of novel cancer therapies.

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