Carcinogenic transformation of somatic cells resembles nuclear reprogramming toward the generation of pluripotent stem cells. These events share eternal escape from cellular senescence, continuous self-renewal in limited but certain population of cells, and refractoriness to terminal differentiation while maintaining the potential to differentiate into cells of one or multiple lineages. As represented by several oncogenes those appeared to be first keys to pluripotency, carcinogenesis and nuclear reprogramming seem to share a number of core mechanisms. The retinoblastoma tumor suppressor product retinoblastoma (RB) seems to be critically involved in both events in highly complicated manners. However, disentangling such complicated interactions has enabled us to better understand how stem cell strategies are shared by cancer cells. This review covers recent findings on RB functions related to stem cells and stem cell-like behaviors of cancer cells.
Keywords: Cancer; Cancer stem cells; Retinoblastoma; Stem cells.