Adult stem cells found to suppress cancer while dormant

December 20, 2013

Researchers at UCLA's Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research have discovered a mechanism by which certain adult stem cells suppress their ability to initiate skin cancer during their dormant phase—an understanding that could be exploited for better cancer-prevention strategies.

The study, which was led by UCLA postdoctoral fellow Andrew White and William Lowry, an associate professor of molecular, cell and developmental biology who holds the Maria Rowena Ross Term Chair in Cell Biology in the UCLA College of Letters and Science, was published online Dec. 15 in the journal Nature Cell Biology.

Hair follicle stem cells, the tissue-specific that generate the hair follicles, are also the cells of origin for cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, a common . These stem cells cycle between periods of activation (during which they can grow) and quiescence (when they remain dormant).

Using mouse models, White and Lowry applied known cancer-causing genes to hair follicle stem cells and found that during their dormant phase, the cells could not be made to initiate skin cancer. Once they were in their active period, however, they began growing cancer.

"We found that this via adult stem cell quiescence was mediated by PTEN, a gene important in regulating the cell's response to signaling pathways," White said. "Therefore, stem cell quiescence is a novel form of tumor suppression in hair follicle stem cells, and PTEN must be present for the suppression to work."

Understanding cancer suppression through quiescence could better inform preventative strategies for certain patients, such as organ transplant recipients, who are particularly susceptible to squamous cell carcinoma, and for those taking the drug vemurafenib for melanoma, another type of skin cancer. The study also may reveal parallels between and other cancers in which have a quiescent phase.

Explore further: Cell of origin for squamous cell carcinoma discovered

Related Stories

Cell of origin for squamous cell carcinoma discovered

April 19, 2011

Squamous cell cancers, which can occur in multiple organs in the body, can originate from hair follicle stem cells, a finding that could result in new strategies to treat and potentially prevent the disease, according to ...

Researchers learn how to break a sweat

October 23, 2013

Without sweat, we would overheat and die. In a recent paper in the journal PLOS ONE, USC faculty member Krzysztof Kobielak and a team of researchers explored the ultimate origin of this sticky, stinky but vital substance—sweat ...

How prostate cancer cells evolve

December 4, 2013

(Medical Xpress)—UCLA researchers have discovered how prostate cancer stem cells evolve as the disease progresses, a finding that could help point the way to more highly targeted therapies. 

Stem cell research uncovers importance of cell cycle

December 17, 2013

(Medical Xpress)—One of the biggest problems in stem cell research may not be a problem at all. Scientists have worried for years that stem cells grown in their labs were made up of many different kinds of cells, making ...

Stem cells offer clues to reversing receding hairlines

December 18, 2013

Regenerative medicine may offer ways to banish baldness that don't involve toupees. The lab of USC scientist Krzysztof Kobielak, MD, PhD has published a trio of papers in the journals Stem Cells and the Proceedings of the ...

Recommended for you

Smarter brains are blood-thirsty brains

August 30, 2016

A University of Adelaide-led project has overturned the theory that the evolution of human intelligence was simply related to the size of the brain—but rather linked more closely to the supply of blood to the brain.

Defend or grow? These plants do both

August 30, 2016

From natural ecosystems to farmers' fields, plants face a dilemma of energy use: outgrow and outcompete their neighbors for light, or defend themselves against insects and disease.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.