Cancer Cells as Dynamic System – Molecular and Phenotypic Changes During Tumor Formation, Progression and Dissemination


Klin Onkol 2016; 29(Suppl 4): 6-11. DOI: 10.14735/amko20164S6.

Dynamic, punctual and perfectly coordinated cellular response to internal and external stimuli is a crucial prerequisite for adaptation of mammalian cells to all changes that occur during cellular development under physiological conditions. Hijacking this ability is characteristic for tumor cells that are capable to adapt to unfavorable conditions which contribute to the formation and development of cancer during the process of tumor formation and progression. By changing key mechanisms, malignant cells can avoid cell death and thus allow development and spread of the tumor. The changes at the genetic level are manifested by various phenotypic characteristics, through which tumor cells are able to escape defense mechanisms, to acquire resistance to treatment, to invade and to create secondary tumors. In recent years, one of the most studied properties include changes in energy metabolism, when tumor cells specifically control reprogramming of the main metabolic pathways for their own benefit and to satisfy their increased needs not only for energy, but also for building materials required for increased proliferation. To adapt to extracellular conditions, it is necessary that cells undergo morphological changes, where modifications in the cell shape through reorganization of cytoskeletal filaments allow tumor cells to increase their invasiveness and other aggressive features. Clarifying these changes together with understanding of the switch in the genetic program within cancer cells, which allows them to overcome different stages of differentiation from cancer stem cells to fully differentiated cells, would be an important prerequisite for identification of the cancer cell “weaknesses” and may lead to improved cancer treatment. The ability of tumor cells to alter the rules of their own organism thus represents an important challenge for oncological research.

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