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An incomplete view of the mechanisms that drive metastasis, the primary cause of cancer-related death, has been a major barrier to development of effective therapeutics and prognostic diagnostics. Increasing evidence indicates that the interplay between microenvironment, genetic lesions, and cellular plasticity drives the metastatic cascade and resistance to therapies. Here, using melanoma as a model, we outline the diversity and trajectories of cell states during metastatic dissemination and therapy exposure, and highlight how understanding the magnitude and dynamics of nongenetic reprogramming in space and time at single-cell resolution can be exploited to develop therapeutic strategies that capitalize on nongenetic tumor evolution.

Original publication




Journal article


Genes & development

Publication Date





1295 - 1318


Laboratory for Molecular Cancer Biology, Center for Cancer Biology, Vlaams Instituut voor Biotechnologie (VIB), Herestraat 49, 3000 Leuven, Belgium.


Humans, Melanoma, Neoplasm Metastasis, Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic, Drug Resistance, Neoplasm, Phenotype, Microphthalmia-Associated Transcription Factor, Neoplastic Stem Cells, Tumor Microenvironment, Cell Plasticity