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Stem Cells. 2012 Mar;30(3):372-8. doi: 10.1002/stem.1035.

Role of BMI1, a stem cell factor, in cancer recurrence and chemoresistance: preclinical and clinical evidences.

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Department of Molecular Chemoprevention and Therapeutics, The Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota, Austin, MN, USA.


There is increasing evidence that a variety of cancers arise from transformation of normal stem cells to cancer stem cells (CSCs). CSCs are thought to sustain cancer progression, invasion, metastasis, and recurrence after therapy. Reports suggest that CSCs are highly resistant to conventional therapy. Emerging evidences show that the chemoresistance of CSCs are in part due to the activation of B cell-specific Moloney murine leukemia virus integration site 1 (BMI1), a stem cell factor, and a polycomb group family member. BMI1 is reported to regulate the proliferation activity of normal, stem, and progenitor cells. BMI1 plays a role in cell cycle, cell immortalization, and senescence. Numerous studies demonstrate that BMI1, which is upregulated in a variety of cancers, has a positive correlation with clinical grade/stage and poor prognosis. Although evidences are in support of the role of BMI1 as a factor in chemoresistance displayed by CSCs, its mechanism of action is not fully understood. In this review, we provide summary of evidences (with mechanism of action established) suggesting the significance of BMI1 in chemoresistance and recurrence of CSCs.

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