Break the Loop, Escape the Cycle?

EMBO J. 2013 Jul 17;32(14):1967-9. doi: 10.1038/emboj.2013.137. Epub 2013 Jun 7.


EMBO J 32 14, 1977–1989 doi:10.1038/emboj.2013.127; published online June042013 Increasing evidence suggests that in many cancer types only a minor proportion of cells, the so-called ‘cancer stem cells', is responsible for fostering continuous tumour growth. Similar to the non-malignant stem cells that maintain tissue homeostasis, cancer stem cells are seemingly able to self-renew indefinitely. A recent study from the lab of Walter Birchmeier, in cooperation with Ulrike Ziebold, published in The EMBO Journal (Wend et al, 2013) suggests that cancer stem cells hijack self-renewal mechanisms similar to those observed in (induced) pluripotent stem cells. Interestingly, their data indicate that breaking this self-enforcing, proliferative loop might be sufficient to promote cancer stem cell differentiation and exhaust tumour growth.

Publication types

  • Comment

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / metabolism*
  • Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Myeloid-Lymphoid Leukemia Protein / metabolism*
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Salivary Gland Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway*
  • beta Catenin / metabolism*


  • KMT2A protein, human
  • beta Catenin
  • Myeloid-Lymphoid Leukemia Protein
  • Histone-Lysine N-Methyltransferase
  • Kmt2a protein, mouse