I'm a physicist writing a proposal that has to do with cancer as a disease driven by evolutionary selection. As far as I understand, all tumors start with a single precursor (single cell or group of cells), and the other cells derive from this precursor by cycles of alterations and selection processes.

Reading recent articles, such as this, I learned that the derived cells include both clones and subclones. Since I'm not sure I understood things correctly, I have a few questions on the difference between the two words:

  1. Is it OK to call clones the cells derived from the precursors?
  2. When should I use subclones?
  3. In the case of heterogeneity, is it fine to call clonal population a group of clones with the same characteristics?

1 Answer 1


clones means when a cell has the same DNA characteristics as his predecessor so in that case of yours you could say that those cells are clones while for sub-clones I am not that sure, the difference of clone and sub-clone is that a sub-clone is basically a clone who is then remade with a different characteristic(an upgrade if you will) , since cancer are mutated cells you could call them like that but only if you study its DNA, meaning you have to study deep to find out if there are sub-clones in there. AS for the 3 question I didn't quite understood what you meant cuz you just used 2 words with opposite meaning because heterogeneity means a group of organismes with different characteristics and clonal population means organismes with same DNA ( much like a colony of bacteria).


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