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Stem Cells International
Volume 2016, Article ID 6439864, 10 pages
Review Article

Endothelial Transdifferentiation of Tumor Cells Triggered by the Twist1-Jagged1-KLF4 Axis: Relationship between Cancer Stemness and Angiogenesis

Research Center for Tumor Medical Science, Graduate Institute of Cancer Biology, China Medical University, Taichung 404, Taiwan

Received 26 August 2015; Accepted 15 October 2015

Academic Editor: Silvia Brunelli

Copyright © 2016 Hsiao-Fan Chen and Kou-Juey Wu. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Tumor hypoxia is associated with malignant biological phenotype including enhanced angiogenesis and metastasis. Hypoxia increases the expression of vascular endothelial cell growth factor (VEGF), which directly participates in angiogenesis by recruiting endothelial cells into hypoxic area and stimulating their proliferation, for increasing vascular density. Recent research in tumor biology has focused on the model in which tumor-derived endothelial cells arise from tumor stem-like cells, but the detailed mechanism is not clear. Twist1, an important regulator of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), has been shown to mediate tumor metastasis and induce tumor angiogenesis. Notch signaling has been demonstrated to be an important player in vascular development and tumor angiogenesis. KLF4 (Krüppel-like factor 4) is a factor commonly used for the generation of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. KLF4 also plays an important role in the differentiation of endothelial cells. Although Twist1 is known as a master regulator of mesoderm development, it is unknown whether Twist1 could be involved in endothelial transdifferentiation of tumor-derived cells. This review focuses on the role of Twist1-Jagged1/Notch-KLF4 axis on tumor-derived endothelial transdifferentiation, tumorigenesis, metastasis, and cancer stemness.