Progenitor Carcinoma Stem Cell can be formed from Oncogenic Combinations of Mutations in a Totipotent Cell


Cancer occurs when a single progenitor cell accumulates mutations and other changes in the DNA, histones, and other biochemical compounds that make up the cell's genome. The cell genome controls the structure of the cell's biochemical components, the biochemical reactions that occur within the cell, and the biological interactions of that cell with other cells. Certain combinations of mutations in the given progenitor cell ultimately result in that cell (also called a cancer stem cell) displaying a number of abnormal, malignant cellular properties that, when taken together, are considered characteristic of cancer, including:

  • the ability to continue to divide perpetually, producing an exponentially (or near-exponentially) increasing number of new malignant cancerous "daughter cells" (uncontrolled mitosis);
  • the ability to penetrate normal body surfaces and barriers, and to bore into or through nearby body structures and tissues (local invasiveness);
  • the ability to spread to other sites within the body (metastasize) by penetrating or entering into the lymphatic vessels (regional metastasis) and/or the blood vessels (distant metastasis).

If this process of continuous growth, local invasion, and regional and distant metastasis is not halted via a combination of stimulation of immunological defenses and medical treatment interventions, the end result is that the host suffers a continuously increasing burden of tumor cells throughout the body. Eventually, the tumor burden increasingly interferes with normal biochemical functions carried out by the host's organs, and death ultimately ensues.

Carcinoma is but one form of cancer—one composed of cells that have developed the cytological appearance, histological architecture, or molecular characteristics of epithelial cells. A progenitor carcinoma stem cell can be formed from any of a number of oncogenic combinations of mutations in a totipotent cell, a cell, or a mature differentiated cell.

John George
Associate Editor
Journal of Molecular cancer