Int J Biol Sci 2017; 13(8):949-960. doi:10.7150/ijbs.19627 This issue
Faculty of Health Science, University of Macau, Macau SAR, China
Breast cancers display striking genetic and phenotypic diversities. To date, several hypotheses are raised to explain and understand the heterogeneity, including theories for cancer stem cell (CSC) and clonal evolution. According to the CSC theory, the most tumorigenic cells, while maintaining themselves through symmetric division, divide asymmetrically to generate non-CSCs with less tumorigenic and metastatic potential, although they can also dedifferentiate back to CSCs. Clonal evolution theory recapitulates that a tumor initially arises from a single cell, which then undergoes clonal expansion to a population of cancer cells. During tumorigenesis and evolution process, cancer cells undergo different degrees of genetic instability and consequently obtain varied genetic aberrations. Yet the heterogeneity in breast cancers is very complex, poorly understood and subjected to further investigation. In recent years, single cell sequencing (SCS) technology developed rapidly, providing a powerful new way to better understand the heterogeneity, which may lay foundations to some new strategies for breast cancer therapies. In this review, we will summarize development of SCS technologies and recent advances of SCS in breast cancer.
Keywords: Cancer stem cells, Intratumor heterogeneity, Intertumor heterogeneity, Breast cancer, Single cell sequencing.