Cancer stem cells (CSCs) constitute a small subpopulation of cancer cells with stem-like properties that are able to self-renew, generate differentiated daughter cells, and give rise to heterogeneous tumor tissue. Tumor heterogeneity is a hallmark of cancer and underlies resistance to anticancer therapies and disease progression. The epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a reversible phenomenon that is mediated by EMT-inducing transcription factors (EMT-TFs) and plays an important role in normal organ development, wound healing, and the invasiveness of cancer cells. Recent evidence showing that overexpression of several EMT-TFs is associated with stemness in cancer cells has suggested the existence of a link between EMT and CSCs. In this review, we focus on the roles of CSCs and EMT signaling in driving tumor heterogeneity. A better understanding of the dynamics of both CSCs and EMT-TFs in the generation of tumor heterogeneity may provide a basis for the development of new treatment options for cancer patients. Stem Cells 2016;34:1997–2007.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Medicine
- Developmental Biology
- Cell Biology