Unraveling the journey of cancer stem cells from origin to metastasis

Rama Krishna Nimmakayala, Surinder K. Batra, Moorthy P. Ponnusamy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Cancer biology research over recent decades has given ample evidence for the existence of self-renewing and drug-resistant populations within heterogeneous tumors, widely recognized as cancer stem cells (CSCs). However, a lack of clear understanding about the origin, existence, maintenance, and metastatic roles of CSCs limit efforts towards the development of CSC-targeted therapy. In this review, we describe novel avenues of current CSC biology. In addition to cell fusion and horizontal gene transfer, CSCs are originated by mutations in somatic or differentiated cancer cells, resulting in de-differentiation and reprogramming. Recent studies also provided evidence for the existence of distinct or heterogeneous CSC populations within a single heterogeneous tumor. Our analysis of the literature also opens the doors for a novel hypothesis that CSC populations with specific phenotypes, metabolic profiles, and clonogenic potential metastasize to specific organs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)50-63
Number of pages14
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Reviews on Cancer
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019


  • Cancer stem cells
  • de-differentiation
  • metabolic reprogramming

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research


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