Linking stem cells to chromosomal instability

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The discovery of a stem cell population in human neoplasias has given a new impulse to the study of the origins of cancer. The tissue compartment in which transformation first occurs likely comprises stem cells, since these cells need to consolidate the short-term and long-term requisites of tissue renewal. Because of their unique role, stem cells have a combination of characteristics that makes them susceptible to genetic damage, transformation, and tumor initiation. One type of genetic damage in particular, chromosomal instability, might affect the stem cell compartment, because it induces an ongoing cycle of DNA damage and alters cellular programming. Here, we will discuss some of the recently described links between SC, chromosomal instability, and carcinogenesis, and outline some of the consequences for oncoimmunology.

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