Refining the role for adult stem cells as cancer cells of origin

Trends Cell Biol. 2015 Jan;25(1):11-20. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2014.08.008. Epub 2014 Sep 18.


Significant progress has been made to identify the cells at the foundation of tumorigenesis, the cancer cell of origin (CCO). The majority of data points towards resident adult stem cells (ASCs) or primitive progenitors as the CCO for those cancers studied, highlighting the importance of stem cells not only as propagators but also as initiators of cancer. Recent data suggest tumor initiation at the CCOs can be regulated through both intrinsic and extrinsic signals and that the identity of the CCOs and their propensity to initiate tumorigenesis is context dependent. In this review, we summarize some of the recent findings regarding CCOs and solid tumor initiation and highlight its relation with bona fide human cancer.

Keywords: cancer cells of origin; genetic hits; stem cell niche; tumor initiation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult Stem Cells / pathology
  • Adult Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Carcinogenesis / pathology
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / pathology
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Stem Cells / pathology
  • Stem Cells / physiology*