The role of tumor-and host-related tissue factor pools in oncogene-driven tumor progression
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Oncogenic events play an important role in cancer-related coagulopathy (Trousseau syndrome), angiogenesis and disease progression. This can, in part, be attributed to the up-regulation of tissue factor (TF) and release of TF-containing microvesicles into the pericellular milieu and the circulation. In addition, certain types of host cells (stromal cells, inflammatory cells, activated endothelium) may also express TF. At present, the relative contribution of host- vs tumor-related TF to tumor progression is not known. Our recent studies have indicated that the role of TF in tumor formation is complex and context-dependent. Genetic or pharmacological disruption of TF expression/activity in cancer cells leads to tumor growth inhibition in immunodeficient mice. This occurred even in the case of xenotransplants of human cancer cells, in which TF overexpression is driven by potent oncogenes (K-ras or EGFR). Interestingly, the expression of TF in vivo is not uniform and appears to be influenced by many factors, including the level of oncogenic transformation, tumor microenvironment, adhesion and the coexpression of markers of cancer stem cells (CSCs). Thus, minimally transformed, but tumorigenic embryonic stem (ES) cells were able to form malignant and angiogenic outgrowths in the absence of TF. However, these tumors were growth inhibited in hosts (mice) with dramatically reduced TF expression (low-TF mice). Depletion of host TF also resulted in changes affecting vascular patterning of some, but not all types of tumors. These observations suggest that TF may play different roles growth and angiogenesis of different tumors. Moreover, both tumor cell and host cell compartments may, in some circumstances, contribute to the functional TF pool. We postulate that activation of the coagulation system and TF signaling, may deliver growth-promoting stimuli (e.g. fibrin, thrombin, platelets) to dormant cancer stem cells (CSCs). Functionally, these influences may be tantamount to formation of a provisional (TF-dependent) cancer stem cell niche. As such these changes may contribute to the involvement of CSCs in tumor growth, angiogenesis and metastasis.
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