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The Darwinian Dynamics of Motility and Metastasis

  • Joshua D. SchiffmanEmail author
  • Richard M. White
  • Trevor A. Graham
  • Qihong Huang
  • Athena Aktipis
Chapter

Abstract

Cancer is a deadly disease, but it is rarely the primary tumor that kills patients. Most cancer deaths are due to metastasis, a complex and still poorly understood process. Metastatic cells may be particularly deadly not just because they can colonize new sites, but because they exhibit a much more plastic and adaptable phenotype compared to primary tumor cells. In this chapter we provide an overview of the evolution of metastasis. First, we review what is known about the mechanisms underlying cell motility/metastasis. Then we describe how evolution operates on cell motility, how evolution operates within tumors, how selection among micrometastases may be important and the role of co-evolution between tumor and stromal cells during metastasis. In addition to reviewing the literature, we describe a number of important insights from evolution that can help guide future work on the nature and dynamics of metastases. These include the application of ecological dispersal theory to the evolution of cell motility, the fact that somatic selection can favor plasticity in neoplastic cells, the possibility that selection among micrometastases may lead to the evolution of collective phenotypes that can extract resources from the host body, and the observation that the parameters of evolution may differ dramatically between primary tumors and metastases. By targeting the processes of evolution of cell motility, cell plasticity and the ability of cells to alter their environments, it may be possible for clinicians to substantially extend life and improve the quality of life for cancer patients. Evolutionary and ecological tools and approaches can help provide a basic framework for integrating what is already known about the evolution of metastasis and guiding future work on this topic.

Keywords

Mestastis Evolution Cheating Motility Cancer 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank all the members of the Evolution of Metastasis working group at the Evolutionary Medicine Summer School at Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratories in Bar Harbor, Maine in August of 2012 for many insightful discussions.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joshua D. Schiffman
    • 1
    Email author
  • Richard M. White
    • 2
  • Trevor A. Graham
    • 3
  • Qihong Huang
    • 4
  • Athena Aktipis
    • 3
    • 5
  1. 1.Departments of Pediatrics and Oncological Sciences, Huntsman Cancer InstituteUniversity of UtahSalt Lake CityUSA
  2. 2.Departments of Cancer Biology and Genetics and Medicine, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Weill Cornell Medical CollegeNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Center for Evolution and CancerUniversity of California San FranciscoSan FranciscoUSA
  4. 4.The Wistar InstitutePhiladelphiaUSA
  5. 5.Department of PsychologyArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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