Self-renewal mechanisms in neural cancer stem cells

Front Biosci (Landmark Ed). 2011 Jan 1;16:598-607. doi: 10.2741/3708.


The view that there are cancer-initiating stem cells has led to a concerted effort to understand the nature of these cells. As in many tissues, rare populations of cancer stem cells have been characterized in neural cancers, including glioblastoma, medulloblastoma and epyndymoma. The ability of stem cells to undergo both symmetric (self-renewal) and asymmetric (division to produce a more differentiated cell) cell division is what defines them as stem cells. Understanding the molecular genetic mechanisms governing the self-renewal and proliferation of these cells will be important in developing novel more effective strategies which will perhaps lead to better treatments for many cancers, including some of the most difficult to treat, such as the most common and aggressive brain cancer, glioblastoma. This review will focus on the molecular genetic mechanisms which have recently been identified as being important for neural stem cell self-renewal in brain cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • AC133 Antigen
  • Animals
  • Antigens, CD / biosynthesis
  • Brain Neoplasms / genetics
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Division*
  • DNA Replication
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Glycoproteins / biosynthesis
  • Hedgehog Proteins / physiology
  • Humans
  • Leukemia Inhibitory Factor / physiology
  • MicroRNAs / physiology*
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Neural Stem Cells / physiology*
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase / physiology
  • Peptides
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / physiology
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / physiology


  • AC133 Antigen
  • Antigens, CD
  • Glycoproteins
  • Hedgehog Proteins
  • Leukemia Inhibitory Factor
  • MicroRNAs
  • Peptides
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase