- Cellular senescence, a state of stable cell cycle arrest in response to cellular stress, is an indispensable mechanism to counter tumorigenesis by halting the proliferation of damaged cells. However, through the secretion of an array of diverse cytokines, chemokines, growth factors, and proteases known as the senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP), senescent cells can paradoxically promote carcinogenesis. Consistent with this, removal of senescent cells delays the onset of cancer and prolongs lifespan in vivo, potentially in part through SASP reduction.
- Functional characterization and understanding of the intricate signaling mechanisms in stem-like cells is crucial for the development of effective therapies in melanoma. We have studied whether melanoma cells are phenotypically distinct and hierarchically organized according to their tumorigenic nature. We report that melanoma-specific CD133+ cancer stem cells exhibit increased tumor-initiating potential, tumor-endothelial cell interaction, and lung metastasis. These cells are able to transdifferentiate into an endothelial-like phenotype when cultured under endothelial differentiation-promoting conditions.