Tumors appear as heterogeneous tissues that consist of tumor cells surrounding by a tumor microenvironment (TME). TME is a complex network composed of extracellular matrix (ECM), stromal cells, and immune/inflammatory cells that drive cancer cells fate from invasion to intravasation and metastasis. The stromal-inflammatory interface represents a dynamic space, in which exchange of numerous molecular information is associated with the transition into tumorigenic microenvironment. Recruitment, activation, and reprogramming of stromal and immune/inflammatory cells in the extracellular space are the consequences of a reciprocal interaction between TME and cancer cells. Recent data suggest that cancer development is influenced by TME and controlled by the host’s immune system, underlying the importance of TME components and immune biomarkers in the determination of prognosis and response to therapy. The immune classification has prognostic value and may be a useful supplement to the histopathological, molecular, and TNM classifications. Nevertheless, the complexity of quantitative immunohistochemistry and the variable assay protocols, stromal and immune cell types analyzed underscore the need to harmonize the quantified methods. It is therefore important to incorporate TME and immune scoring in determinations of cancer prognosis and to make sure they become a routine part of the histopathological diagnostic and prognostic assessment of patients.
Part of the book: Histopathology
PiRNAs [P-element-induced wimpy testis (PIWI)-interacting RNAs] represent the most frequent but the least well-investigated subtype of small ncRNAs and are characterized by their interaction with PIWI proteins, a subclass of the Argonaute family. PiRNAs and PIWI proteins maintain integrity of the genomic structure and regulate gene expression in germline and somatic cells. The PIWI-piRNA pathway primarily constitutes a conserved immune-like surveillance process that recognizes self and nonself. This axis controls genome integrity of germline cells and nonaging somatic cells by silencing and suppressing propagation of transposable elements through epigenetic and posttranscriptional mechanisms. However, mounting evidences indicate that the PIWI-piRNA pathway has broader implications in both germinal and somatic cells in various physiological and pathological processes. It modulates mRNAs levels of expression, stability, turnover, and translation and interacts directly with many transcription factors and signaling pathways molecules. PIWI proteins and piRNAs play pivotal roles in germline stem cell maintenance and self-renewal, fertilization and development, genes and proteins expression, genome rearrangement, and homeostasis.
Part of the book: Epigenetics and Chromatin