From cancer stem cells to tumor maintenance in melanoma

J Invest Dermatol. 2011 Aug;131(8):1600-4. doi: 10.1038/jid.2011.159. Epub 2011 Jun 9.


The utility of different models to identify cancer stem cells continues to be a subject of intense debate. Here, we summarize recent efforts to characterize intra-tumoral heterogeneity of melanoma and delineate key questions for future studies. Within a developing or already established tumor microenvironment, we propose that continuous tumor maintenance is assured by specific sub-populations whose phenotype is not static but instead is dynamically regulated. These small and temporarily distinct sub-populations likely have critical roles in tumor progression. They are important therapeutic targets, but only in the context of combination therapies, that also eliminate the bulk of the tumor.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Melanoma / pathology*
  • Melanoma / therapy
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / pathology*
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Skin Neoplasms / therapy
  • Tumor Microenvironment*