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Nat Rev Cancer. 2003 Jun;3(6):411-21.

Vasculogenic mimicry and tumour-cell plasticity: lessons from melanoma.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Carver College of Medicine and the Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center at The University of Iowa, 375 Newton Road, Iowa City, Iowa 52242, USA.


The gene-expression profile of aggressive cutaneous and uveal melanoma cells resembles that of an undifferentiated, embryonic-like cell. The plasticity of certain types of cancer cell could explain their ability to mimic the activities of endothelial cells and to participate in processes such as neovascularization and the formation of a fluid-conducting, matrix-rich meshwork. This ability has been termed 'vasculogenic mimicry'. How does vasculogenic mimicry contribute to tumour progression, and can it be targeted by therapeutic agents?

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