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Genetic lineage markers for identifying skin cancer stem cells

Mouse studies suggest genetic lineage markers could be useful for identifying compounds that target skin cancer stem cells. A standard mouse model of chemical-induced skin cancer was engineered to express yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) in skin papillomas. Tracking the YFP signal over time revealed two subpopulations of tumor cells in the papilloma, one with stem cell-like features and the other with proliferative features. Further quantitative analysis of the papillomas led to a model of tumor growth that suggests a minority population of stem cell-like tumor cells gives rise to a pool of proliferative progenitor cells that lead to terminally differentiated tumor cells. Next steps include using the lineage-tracing assay to identify cellular pathways that contribute to dysregulation of cancer stem cells (see Tracing cancer stem cells, page 1).

SciBX 5(32); doi:10.1038/scibx.2012.856
Published online Aug. 16, 2012

Unpatented; licensing status not applicable

Driessens, G. et al. Nature; published online Aug. 1, 2012;
Contact: Benjamin Simons, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, U.K.
Contact: Cédric Blanpain, Free University of Brussels, Brussels, Belgium