Chapter

Cell Fusion in Health and Disease

Volume 950 of the series Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology pp 129-140

Date:

Cell Fusion Hypothesis of the Cancer Stem Cell

  • Xin LuAffiliated withDepartment of Molecular Biology, Princeton University
  • , Yibin KangAffiliated withDepartment of Molecular Biology, Princeton UniversityBreast Cancer Program, The Cancer Institute of New Jersey Email author 

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Abstract

A major advance in recent cancer research is the identification of tumor cells with stem cell-like properties. Cancer stem cells (CSCs) often represent a rare population in the tumor mass and possess the exclusive ability to initiate the growth of a heterogeneous tumor. The origin of CSCs remains elusive and is likely to be cancer type specific. One possible but under-appreciated potential mechanism for the generation of CSCs is through fusion between stem cells and differentiated cells. The cell fusion hypothesis of CSCs adds an important functional underpinning to the potential multifaceted roles of cell fusion in the initiation and progression of cancer.