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J Clin Oncol. 2008 Jun 10;26(17):2890-4. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2007.15.5465.

Melanoma stem cells: the dark seed of melanoma.

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  • 1The Wistar Institute, 3601 Spruce St, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Cells with stem-cell markers and features have recently been identified in melanoma tissues and cell lines. Melanoma stem-like cells possess many traits of tumor-initiating or tumor stem cells including self-renewal capacity, high tumorigenicity, and differentiation into various mesenchymal lineages, including melanocytic cells. Four subpopulations of melanoma-initiating cells have been distinguished: CD20(+), CD133(+), label-retaining or slow-cycling cells, and side-population cells with high efflux activities. Whether these are distinct or overlapping populations is currently under investigation. Ongoing studies are dissecting and characterizing the hierarchy of these subpopulations within a malignant lesion. Understanding these and the dynamics of clonal dominance will aid in the development of novel therapeutic strategies.

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