Distinctive properties of metastasis-initiating cells

Toni Celià-Terrassa, Yibin Kang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

241 Scopus citations


Primary tumors are known to constantly shed a large number of cancer cells into systemic dissemination, yet only a tiny fraction of these cells is capable of forming overt metastases. The tremendous rate of attrition during the process of metastasis implicates the existence of a rare and unique population of metastasis-initiating cells (MICs). MICs possess advantageous traits that may originate in the primary tumor but continue to evolve during dissemination and colonization, including cellular plasticity, metabolic reprogramming, the ability to enter and exit dormancy, resistance to apoptosis, immune evasion, and co-option of other tumor and stromal cells. Better understanding of the molecular and cellular hallmarks of MICs will facilitate the development and deployment of novel therapeutic strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)892-908
Number of pages17
JournalGenes and Development
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 15 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology


  • Cancer metastasis
  • Epithelial–mesenchymal transition
  • Metastasis-initiating cells
  • Metastatic niche
  • Plasticity


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