Reprogramming metastatic tumour cells with embryonic microenvironments

Nat Rev Cancer. 2007 Apr;7(4):246-55. doi: 10.1038/nrc2108.


Aggressive tumour cells share many characteristics with embryonic progenitors, contributing to the conundrum of tumour cell plasticity. Recent studies using embryonic models of human stem cells, the zebrafish and the chick have shown the reversion of the metastatic phenotype of aggressive melanoma cells, and revealed the convergence of embryonic and tumorigenic signalling pathways, which may help to identify new targets for therapeutic intervention. This Review will summarize the embryonic models used to reverse the metastatic melanoma phenotype, and highlight the prominent signalling pathways that have emerged as noteworthy targets for future consideration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Movement
  • Chick Embryo
  • Embryo, Mammalian / cytology*
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian*
  • Embryonic Stem Cells
  • Humans
  • Melanoma / metabolism
  • Melanoma / pathology*
  • Models, Animal
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / pathology*
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Neural Crest
  • Nodal Protein
  • Signal Transduction
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / physiology
  • Zebrafish / embryology


  • NODAL protein, human
  • Nodal Protein
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta