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Cancers (Basel). 2010;3(1):285-97. doi: 10.3390/cancers3010285.

Enteric bacteria and cancer stem cells.

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Gastroenterology & Hepatology Division, Department of Medicine, University of Rochester, 601 Elmwood Avenue, Rochester, NY 14642, USA; ; Tel.: +10-585-276-3798;


Intestinal bacteria can contribute to cell proliferation and cancer development, particularly in chronic infectious diseases in which bacteria and/or bacterial components might interfere with cell function. The number of microbial cells within the gut lumen is estimated to be 100 trillion, which is about 10-times larger than the number of eukaryotic cells in the human body. Because of the complexity of the gut flora, identifying the specific microbial agents related to human diseases remains challenging. Recent studies have demonstrated that the stemness of colon cancer cells is, in part, orchestrated by the microenvironment and is defined by high Wnt activity. In this review article, we will discuss recent progress with respect to intestinal stem cells, cancer stem cells, and the molecular mechanisms of enteric bacteria in the activation of the Wnt pathway. We will also discuss the roles of other pathways, including JAK-STAT, JNK, and Notch, in regulating stem cell niches during bacterial infections using Drosophila models. Insights gained from understanding how host-bacterial interaction during inflammation and cancer may serve as a paradigm for understanding the nature of self-renewal signals.

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