Calcium channels and cancer stem cells.


National Institute of Cellular Biotechnology, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland; School of Nursing and Human science, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland. Electronic address: [Email]


Cancer stem cells (CSC's) have emerged as a key area of investigation due to associations with cancer development and treatment resistance, related to their ability to remain quiescent, self-renew and terminally differentiate. Targeting CSC's in addition to the tumour bulk could ensure complete removal of the cancer, lessening the risk of relapse and improving patient survival. Understanding the mechanisms supporting the functions of CSC's is essential to highlight targets for the development of therapeutic strategies. Changes in intracellular calcium through calcium channel activity is fundamental for integral cellular processes such as proliferation, migration, differentiation and survival in a range of cell types, under both normal and pathological conditions. Here in we highlight how calcium channels represent a key mechanism involved in CSC function. It is clear that expression and or function of a number of channels involved in calcium entry and intracellular store release are altered in CSC's. Correlating with aberrant proliferation, self-renewal and differentiation, which in turn promoted cancer progression and treatment resistance. Research outlined has demonstrated that targeting altered calcium channels in CSC populations can reduce their stem properties and induce terminal differentiation, sensitising them to existing cancer treatments. Overall this highlights calcium channels as emerging novel targets for CSC therapies.


Calcium,Calcium channels,Cancer stem cells,Treatment resistance,Tumour relapse,