Opinion: the origin of the cancer stem cell: current controversies and new insights

Nat Rev Cancer. 2005 Nov;5(11):899-904. doi: 10.1038/nrc1740.


Most tumours are derived from a single cell that is transformed into a cancer-initiating cell (cancer stem cell) that has the capacity to proliferate and form tumours in vivo. However, the origin of the cancer stem cell remains elusive. Interestingly, during development and tissue repair the fusion of genetic and cytoplasmic material between cells of different origins is an important physiological process. Such cell fusion and horizontal gene-transfer events have also been linked to several fundamental features of cancer and could be important in the development of the cancer stem cell.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Fusion
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / pathology*
  • Gene Transfer, Horizontal / physiology
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Stem Cells / pathology*