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Review

Tumor-Cell–Macrophage Fusion Cells as Liquid Biomarkers and Tumor Enhancers in Cancer

1
Department of Surgery, Ellis Fischel Cancer Center, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65212, USA
2
Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital, Columbia, MO 65201, USA
3
Department of Molecular Microbiology & Immunology, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65212, USA
4
Bond Life Sciences Center, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65212, USA
5
Department of Biochemistry, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65212, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(5), 1872; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21051872
Received: 16 February 2020 / Revised: 6 March 2020 / Accepted: 7 March 2020 / Published: 9 March 2020
Although molecular mechanisms driving tumor progression have been extensively studied, the biological nature of the various populations of circulating tumor cells (CTCs) within the blood is still not well understood. Tumor cell fusion with immune cells is a longstanding hypothesis that has caught more attention in recent times. Specifically, fusion of tumor cells with macrophages might lead to the development of metastasis by acquiring features such as genetic and epigenetic heterogeneity, chemotherapeutic resistance, and immune tolerance. In addition to the traditional FDA-approved definition of a CTC (CD45-, EpCAM+, cytokeratins 8+, 18+ or 19+, with a DAPI+ nucleus), an additional circulating cell population has been identified as being potential fusions cells, characterized by distinct, large, polymorphonuclear cancer-associated cells with a dual epithelial and macrophage/myeloid phenotype. Artificial fusion of tumor cells with macrophages leads to migratory, invasive, and metastatic phenotypes. Further studies might investigate whether these have a potential impact on the immune response towards the cancer. In this review, the background, evidence, and potential relevance of tumor cell fusions with macrophages is discussed, along with the potential role of intercellular connections in their formation. Such fusion cells could be a key component in cancer metastasis, and therefore, evolve as a diagnostic and therapeutic target in cancer precision medicine. View Full-Text
Keywords: cancer; liquid biomarkers; circulating tumor cells; fusion cells cancer; liquid biomarkers; circulating tumor cells; fusion cells
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MDPI and ACS Style

Manjunath, Y.; Porciani, D.; Mitchem, J.B.; Suvilesh, K.N.; Avella, D.M.; Kimchi, E.T.; Staveley-O’Carroll, K.F.; Burke, D.H.; Li, G.; Kaifi, J.T. Tumor-Cell–Macrophage Fusion Cells as Liquid Biomarkers and Tumor Enhancers in Cancer. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21, 1872. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21051872

AMA Style

Manjunath Y, Porciani D, Mitchem JB, Suvilesh KN, Avella DM, Kimchi ET, Staveley-O’Carroll KF, Burke DH, Li G, Kaifi JT. Tumor-Cell–Macrophage Fusion Cells as Liquid Biomarkers and Tumor Enhancers in Cancer. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2020; 21(5):1872. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21051872

Chicago/Turabian Style

Manjunath, Yariswamy, David Porciani, Jonathan B. Mitchem, Kanve N. Suvilesh, Diego M. Avella, Eric T. Kimchi, Kevin F. Staveley-O’Carroll, Donald H. Burke, Guangfu Li, and Jussuf T. Kaifi. 2020. "Tumor-Cell–Macrophage Fusion Cells as Liquid Biomarkers and Tumor Enhancers in Cancer" International Journal of Molecular Sciences 21, no. 5: 1872. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21051872

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