Originally described as interpatient variability, tumour heterogeneity has now been demonstrated to occur intrapatiently, within the same lesion, or in different lesions of the same patient. Tumour heterogeneity involves both genetic and epigenetic changes. Intrapatient heterogeneity is responsible for generating subpopulations of cancer cells which undergo clonal evolution with time. Tumour heterogeneity develops also as a consequence of the selective pressure imposed by the immune system. It has been demonstrated that tumour heterogeneity and different spatiotemporal interactions between all the cellular compontents within the tumour microenvironment lead to cancer adaptation and to therapeutic pressure. In this context, the recent advent of single cell analysis approaches which are able to better study tumour heterogeneity from the genomic, transcriptomic and proteomic standpoint represent a major technological breakthrough. In this review, using metastatic melanoma as a prototypical example, we will focus on applying single cell analyses to the study of clonal trajectories which guide the evolution of drug resistance to targeted therapy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Cell Biology
- Cancer Research