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Tumors contain a vastly complicated cellular network that relies on local communication to execute malignant programs. The molecular cues that are involved in cell-cell adhesion orchestrate large-scale tumor behaviors such as proliferation and invasion. We have recently begun to appreciate that many tumors contain a high degree of cellular heterogeneity and are organized in a cellular hierarchy, with a cancer stem cell (CSC) population identified at the apex in multiple cancer types. CSCs reside in unique microenvironments or niches that are responsible for directing their behavior through cellular interactions between CSCs and stromal cells, generating a malignant social network. Identifying cell-cell adhesion mechanisms in this network has implications for the basic understanding of tumorigenesis and the development of more effective therapies. In this review, we will discuss our current understanding of cell-cell adhesion mechanisms used by CSCs and how these local interactions have global consequences for tumor biology.


James S Hale, Meizhang Li, Justin D Lathia. The malignant social network: cell-cell adhesion and communication in cancer stem cells. Cell adhesion & migration. 2012 Jul-Aug;6(4):346-55

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PMID: 22796941

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