Putting Tumors in Context

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The interactions between cancer cells and their micro- and macroenvironment create a context that promotes tumor growth and protects it from immune attack. The functional association of cancer cells with their surrounding tissues forms a new 'organ' that changes as malignancy progresses. Investigation of this process might provide new insights into the mechanisms of tumorigenesis and could also lead to new therapeutic targets. Under normal conditions, ORGANS are made up of TISSUES that exchange information with other cell types via cell-cell contact, cytokines and the EXTRACELLULAR MATRIX (ECM). The ECM, which is produced by collaboration between STROMAL fibroblasts and EPITHELIAL ... continued below

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Bissell, Mina & Radisky, Derek October 1, 2001.

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The interactions between cancer cells and their micro- and macroenvironment create a context that promotes tumor growth and protects it from immune attack. The functional association of cancer cells with their surrounding tissues forms a new 'organ' that changes as malignancy progresses. Investigation of this process might provide new insights into the mechanisms of tumorigenesis and could also lead to new therapeutic targets. Under normal conditions, ORGANS are made up of TISSUES that exchange information with other cell types via cell-cell contact, cytokines and the EXTRACELLULAR MATRIX (ECM). The ECM, which is produced by collaboration between STROMAL fibroblasts and EPITHELIAL cells, provides structural scaffolding for cells, as well as contextual information. The endothelial vasculature provides nutrients and oxygen, and cells of the immune system combat pathogens and remove apoptotic cells. Epithelial cells associate into intact, polarized sheets. These tissues communicate through a complex network of interactions: physically, through direct contact or through the intervening ECM, and biochemically, through both soluble and insoluble signalling molecules. In combination, these interactions provide the information that is necessary to maintain cellular differentiation and to create complex tissue structures. Occasionally, the intercellular signals that define the normal context become disrupted. Alterations in epithelial tissues can lead to movement of epithelial sheets and proliferation - for example, after activation of mesenchymal fibroblasts due to wounding.Normally, these conditions are temporary and reversible, but when inflammation is sustained, an escalating feedback loop ensues.Under persistent inflammatory conditions, continual upregulation of enzymes such as matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) by stromal fibroblasts can disrupt the ECM, and invading immune cells can overproduce factors that promote abnormal proliferation. As this process progresses, the normal organization of the organ is replaced by a functional disorder. If there are pre-existing epithelial cells within this changing context that possess tumorigenic potential, they can start to proliferate. Alternatively, the abnormal interactions might lead to genomic instability within the epithelial cells and the acquisition of tumorigenic potential. The proliferating cancer cells can then interact with their microenvironment and enhance the abnormal interactions. At this point, the tumor has become its own organ, with a distinct context that now defines all its cellular responses. Here, we will examine how the mechanisms that contribute to the normal context also act to suppress developing tumors, how disruption of this context initiates and supports the process of tumorigenicity, and how some cells with a tumorigenic genotype can become phenotypically normal if the context is appropriately manipulated.

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  • Journal Name: Nature Reviews Cancer; Journal Volume: 1; Related Information: Journal Publication Date: 10/2001

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  • Report No.: LBNL-3945E
  • Grant Number: DE-AC02-05CH11231
  • Grant Number: DE-AC02-05CH11231
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 989221
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc1015024

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) is the Department of Energy (DOE) office that collects, preserves, and disseminates DOE-sponsored research and development (R&D) results that are the outcomes of R&D projects or other funded activities at DOE labs and facilities nationwide and grantees at universities and other institutions.

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  • October 1, 2001

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  • Oct. 14, 2017, 8:36 a.m.

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  • Oct. 17, 2017, 6:58 p.m.

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Bissell, Mina & Radisky, Derek. Putting Tumors in Context, article, October 1, 2001; Berkeley, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1015024/: accessed December 11, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.