Cancer cell cycle dystopia: heterogeneity, plasticity, and therapy

Agnieszka K. Witkiewicz, Vishnu Kumarasamy, Ioannis Sanidas, Erik S. Knudsen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The mammalian cell cycle has been extensively studied regarding cancer etiology, progression, and therapeutic intervention. The canonical cell cycle framework is supported by a plethora of data pointing to a relatively simple linear pathway in which mitogenic signals are integrated in a stepwise fashion to allow progression through G1/S with coordinate actions of cyclin-dependent kinases (CDK)4/6 and CDK2 on the RB tumor suppressor. Recent work on adaptive mechanisms and intrinsic heterogeneous dependencies indicates that G1/S control of the cell cycle is a variable signaling pathway rather than an invariant engine that drives cell division. These alterations can limit the effectiveness of pharmaceutical agents but provide new avenues for therapeutic interventions. These findings support a dystopian view of the cell cycle in cancer where the canonical utopian cell cycle is often not observed. However, recognizing the extent of cell cycle heterogeneity likely creates new opportunities for precision therapeutic approaches specifically targeting these states.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)711-725
Number of pages15
JournalTrends in Cancer
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • CDK4
  • CDK6
  • CHK1
  • RB
  • abemaciclib
  • ambra1
  • aurora kinase
  • cyclin D1
  • cyclin E
  • p16
  • p27
  • palbociclib

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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