Tumor cells can persist undetectably for an extended period of time in primary tumors and in disseminated cancer cells. Very little is known about why and how these tumors persist for extended periods of time and then evolve to malignancy. The discovery of cancer stem cells (CSCs) in human tumors challenges our current understanding of tumor recurrence, drug resistance, and metastasis, and opens up new research directions on how cancer cells are capable of switching from dormancy to malignancy. Although overlapping molecules and pathways have been reported to regulate the stem-like phenotype of CSCs and metastasis, accumulated evidence has suggested additional clonal diversity within the stem-like cancer cell subpopulation. This review will describe the current hypothesis linking CSCs and metastasis and summarize mechanisms important for metastatic CSCs to re-initiate tumors in the secondary sites. A better understanding of CSCs’ contribution to clinical tumor dormancy and metastasis will provide new therapeutic revenues to eradicate metastatic tumors and significantly reduce the mortality of cancer patients.
cancer stem cells; metastasis; tumor dormancy; stem-like subpopulations; disseminated CSCs; EMT–MET cooperativity
Recent advances in our understanding of breast cancer biology have led to the identification of a subpopulation of cells within tumors that appear to be responsible for initiating and propagating the cancer. These tumor initiating cells are not only unique in their ability to generate tumors, but also share many similarities with elements of normal adult tissue stem cells, and have therefore been termed cancer stem cells (CSCs). These CSCs often inappropriately use many of the same signaling pathways utilized by their normal stem cell counterparts which may present a challenge to the development of CSC specific therapies. Here, we discuss three major stem cell signaling pathways (Notch, Wnt, and Hedgehog); with a focus on their function in normal mammary gland development and their misuse in breast cancer stem cell fate determination.
Cancer stem cell; hedgehog; mammary stem cell; notch; Wnt
Cancer stem cells (CSCs) have been identified as rare cell populations in many cancers, including leukemia and solid tumors. Accumulating evidence has suggested that CSCs are capable of self-renewal and differentiation into various types of cancer cells. Aberrant regulation of gene expression and some signaling pathways has been observed in CSCs compared to other tumor cells. CSCs are thought to be responsible for cancer initiation, progression, metastasis, recurrence and drug resistance. The CSC hypothesis has recently attracted much attention due to the potential for discovery and development of CSC-related therapies and the identification of key molecules involved in controlling the unique properties of CSC populations. Over the past several years, a tremendous amount of effort has been invested in the development of new drugs, such as nanomedicines, that can take advantage of the “Achilles' heel” of CSCs by targeting cell-surface molecular markers or various signaling pathways. Novel compounds and therapeutic strategies that selectively target CSCs have been identified, some of which have been evaluated in preclinical and clinical studies. In this article, we review new findings related to the investigation of the CSC hypothesis, and discuss the crucial pathways involved in regulating the development of CSC populations and the advances in studies of drug resistance. In addition, we review new CSC-targeted therapeutic strategies aiming to eradicate malignancies.
cancer; stem cell; leukemia; biomarker; ATP-binding cassette transporter; signaling pathway; tumor microenvironment
Epigenetic mechanisms play critical roles in stem cell biology by maintaining pluripotency of stem cells and promoting differentiation of more mature derivatives. If similar mechanisms are relevant for the cancer stem cell (CSC) model, then epigenetic modulation might enrich the CSC population, thereby facilitating CSC isolation and rigorous evaluation. To test this hypothesis, primary human cancer cells and liver cancer cell lines were treated with zebularine (ZEB), a potent DNA-methyltransferase1-inhibitor and putative CSCs were isolated by the Side Population (SP) approach. The CSC properties of ZEB-treated and untreated subpopulations were tested by standard in vitro and in vivo assays. Whole transcriptome profiling of isolated CSC was performed to generate CSC signatures. Clinical relevance of the CSC signatures was evaluated in diverse primary human cancers. Epigenetic modulation increased frequency of cells with CSC properties in the SP fraction isolated from human cancer cells as judged by self-renewal, superior tumor-initiating capacity in serial transplantations and direct cell tracking experiments. Integrative transcriptome analysis revealed common traits enriched for stemness-associated genes, although each individual CSC gene expression signature exhibited activation of different oncogenic pathways (e.g. EGFR, SRC and MYC). The common CSC signature was associated with malignant progression, enriched in poorly differentiated tumors and was highly predictive of prognosis in liver and other cancers patients.
Epigenetic modulation may provide a tool for prospective isolation and in-depth analysis of CSC. The liver CSC gene signatures are defined by a pernicious interaction of unique oncogene-specific and common stemness traits. These data should facilitate the identifications of therapeutic tools targeting both unique and common features of CSC.
Cancer Stem Cells; Liver Cancer; Side-population; Epigenetics
Recent research in cancer biology has suggested the hypothesis that tumors are initiated and driven by a small group of cancer stem cells (CSCs). Furthermore, cancer stem cell niches have been found to be essential in determining fates of CSCs, and several signaling pathways have been proven to play a crucial role in cellular behavior, which could be two important factors in cancer development. To better understand the progression, heterogeneity and treatment response of breast cancer, especially in the context of CSCs, we propose a mathematical model based on the cell compartment method. In this model, three compartments of cellular subpopulations are constructed: CSCs, progenitor cells (PCs), and terminal differentiated cells (TCs). Moreover, 1) the cancer stem cell niche is, considered by modeling its effect on division patterns (symmetric or asymmetric) of CSCs, and 2) the EGFR signaling pathway is integrated by modeling its role in cell proliferation, apoptosis. Our simulation results indicate that 1) a higher probability for symmetric division of CSC may result in a faster expansion of tumor population, and for a larger number of niches, the tumor grows at a slower rate, but the final tumor volume is larger; 2) higher EGFR expression correlates to tumors with larger volumes while a saturation function is observed, and 3) treatments that inhibit tyrosine kinase activity of EGFR may not only repress the tumor volume, but also decrease the CSCs percentages by shifting CSCs from symmetric divisions to asymmetric divisions. These findings suggest that therapies should be designed to effectively control or eliminate the symmetric division of CSCs and to reduce or destroy the CSC niches.
mathematical model; compartment method; signaling pathway; breast cancer; tyrosine kinase inhibitors
Recent experimental evidence indicates that many solid cancers have a hierarchical organization structure with a subpopulation of cancer stem cells (CSCs). The ability to identify CSCs prospectively now allows for testing the responses of CSCs to treatment modalities like radiation therapy. Initial studies have found CSCs in glioma and breast cancer relatively resistant to ionizing radiation and possible mechanisms behind this resistance have been explored. This review summarizes the landmark publications in this young field with an emphasis on the radiation responses of CSCs. The existence of CSCs in solid cancers place restrictions on the interpretation of many radiobiological observations, while explaining others. The fact that these cells may be a relatively quiescent subpopulation that are metabolically distinct from the other cells in the tumor has implications for both imaging and therapy of cancer. This is particularly true for biological targeting of cancer for enhanced radiotherapeutic benefit, which must consider whether the unique properties of this subpopulation allow it to avoid such therapies.
cancer stem cells; cancer initiating cells; radiation biology
The hypothesis that cancer is driven by a subpopulation of tumor-initiating or cancer stem cells (CSC), defined by their selective ability for extensive self-renewal and capacity to give rise to nontumorigenic cancer cell progeny through differentiation, has been validated experimentally in diverse human malignancies. Translational relevance of the CSC hypothesis is underlined by emerging novel strategies designed to target all subpopulations within a given tumor in order to effect cancer eradication and improve patient outcomes. Colorectal cancer stem cells (CRSCs) have been identified and successfully isolated by several research groups based on distinct cell-surface marker characteristics. Identification of CRSC populations has led to a wave of discoveries describing novel self-renewal and drug resistance mechanisms in colorectal cancer that represent novel future therapeutic targets. In this review, we will discuss emerging CRSC-specific pathways and the therapeutic promise of targeting this cancer population in colorectal cancer patients.
Colorectal cancer; Stem cells; CD133; CD44; ALDH1; ESA; CD166; Therapy; Chemoresistance; Radioresistance; Targeting; ABCB5; 5-FU; Oxaliplatin; Wnt; APC; Lgr5; SMAD4; BMP4; Notch; Il-4; Aurora-A kinase
Recently, the hypothesis that colorectal tumors originate from a subpopulation of cells called ‘cancer stem cells' (CSCs) or tumor-initiating cells, which exhibit stem-like features, has been confirmed experimentally in various human cancers. Several studies have confirmed the existence of colorectal CSCs (CRCSCs) and have demonstrated that this rare cell population can be isolated by the expression of specific cell surface biomarkers. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of small non-coding RNAs, which are crucial for post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression and participate in a wide variety of biological functions, including development, cell proliferation, differentiation, metabolism and signal transduction. Moreover, new evidences suggest that miRNAs could contribute to preserve stemness of embryonic stem cells and could be involved in maintaining stemness of CSCs. Recent studies have begun to outline the role of miRNAs in regulation of CRCSCs. This review aims to summarize the recent advancement about the roles of miRNAs in CRCSCs that may represent a step forward in understanding the molecular mechanisms and the possible approaches for colorectal cancer therapy.
microRNAs; CSCs; CRC; stemness
Cancer stem cells (CSCs) appear to resist chemo-radiotherapy and initiate tumor recurrence in patients. Isolation and further characterization of this subpopulation is important for targeting CSCs. Flow cytometry using Aldefluor, a fluorescent substrate of aldehyde dehydrogenase, has been used to isolate CSCs from various cancer cell lines. However, new techniques are needed to locate and identify CSCs in culture for live-cell analyses such as fluorescence microscopy without introducing artifacts during cell sorting and to observe CSC and non-CSC interactions. Previously, we characterized a distinct CSC subpopulation within human esophageal cancer cell lines (ESCC). In this study we introduce the attached-cell Aldefluor method (ACAM) to detect CSCs in ESCC cell lines (KY-5, KY-10, TE-1, TE-8, YES-1, YES-2). To validate this technique, we isolated CSCs from the YES-2 parental line using standard Aldefluor flow cytometry to create a cell line enriched in CSCs (YES-2CSC). This line showed significantly greater ACAM staining and higher CD44 levels than YES-2. ACAM also showed significantly higher ALDH activity in YES-2CSC than in YES-2S, a cell line that has a diminished CSC subpopulation after having survived treatment with curcumin. ACAM stained cells within tumorspheres made from the CSC-enriched line but not differentiating cells from the tumorspheres. This study also demonstrates a new method for generating and growing tumorspheres without the growth factor supplements normally used in medium to form tumorspheres. ACAM should be evaluated using other cancer cell lines to further substantiate its effectiveness and to characterize CSCs in culture through various imaging techniques.
Esophageal Cancer; Cancer Stem Cells; Aldefluor; Adherent Cells; CD44; Tumorsphere; Curcumin.
PIK3CA (phosphoinositide-3-kinase, catalytic, alpha polypeptide) mutations can help predict the antitumor activity of phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K)/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway inhibitors in both preclinical and clinical settings. In light of the recent discovery of tumor-initiating cancer stem cells (CSCs) in various tumor types, we developed an in vitro CSC model from xenograft tumors established in mice from a colorectal cancer patient tumor in which the CD133+/EpCAM+ population represented tumor-initiating cells. CD133+/EpCAM+ CSCs were enriched under stem cell culture conditions and formed 3-dimensional tumor spheroids. Tumor spheroid cells exhibited CSC properties, including the capability for differentiation and self-renewal, higher tumorigenic potential and chemo-resistance. Genetic analysis using an OncoCarta™ panel revealed a PIK3CA (H1047R) mutation in these cells. Using a dual PI3K/mTOR inhibitor, PF-04691502, we then showed that blockage of the PI3K/mTOR pathway inhibited the in vitro proliferation of CSCs and in vivo xenograft tumor growth with manageable toxicity. Tumor growth inhibition in mice was accompanied by a significant reduction of phosphorylated Akt (pAKT) (S473), a well-established surrogate biomarker of PI3K/mTOR signaling pathway inhibition. Collectively, our data suggest that PF-04691502 exhibits potent anticancer activity in colorectal cancer by targeting both PIK3CA (H1047R) mutant CSCs and their derivatives. These results may assist in the clinical development of PF-04691502 for the treatment of a subpopulation of colorectal cancer patients with poor outcomes.
Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are a subpopulation generally thought to be responsible for cancer initiation and progression. Because CSCs are often rare in the total tumor cell population and differentiate rapidly when grown in culture, it has been challenging to uncover compounds that selectively target CSCs. We previously described CSC-emulating cells derived from breast cancer cell lines that maintained a stable undifferentiated state. We optimized a phenotypic assay with these cells and screened 1,280-bioactive compounds, identifying five that preferentially inhibited CSC-like cell proliferation. Using a compound-guided target identification approach, we found high topoisomerase I (Topo I) expression levels in breast CSC-like cells and primary breast CSCs. Structurally unrelated small molecules targeting Topo I preferentially inhibited CSC-like cells. These results illustrate the substantial power of this CSC phenotypic screening platform and promote Topo I as a potential molecular therapeutic target for therapies aimed at expunging CSCs.
cancer stem cell; Topoisomerase I; small molecule inhibitor; compound library screening
The cancer stem cell hypothesis posits that tumor growth is driven by a rare subpopulation of cells, designated cancer stem cells (CSC). Studies supporting this theory are based in large part on xenotransplantation experiments wherein human cancer cells are grown in immunocompromised mice and only CSC, often constituting less than 1% of the malignancy, generate tumors. Herein, we show that all colonies derived from randomly chosen single cells in mouse lung and breast cancer cell lines form tumors following allografting histocompatible mice. Our study suggests that the majority of malignant cells rather than CSC can sustain tumors and that the cancer stem cell theory must be reevaluated.
Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are thought to be a source of tumor recurrence due to their stem cell-like properties. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) regulate both normal stem cells and CSCs, and dysregulation of miRNAs has an important role in tumorigenesis. Cluster of differentiation (CD) 133+ and spheroid formation have been reported to be one of the main features of ovarian CSCs. Therefore, we determined the miRNA expression profile of a CD133+ spheroid-forming subpopulation of the OVCAR3 human ovarian cancer cell line.
Initially, we confirmed the enrichment of the OVCAR3 CD133 subpopulation by evaluating in vitro anchorage-independent growth. After obtaining a subpopulation of CD133+ OVCAR3 cells with > 98% purity via cell sorting, miRNA microarray and real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) were performed to evaluate its miRNA profile.
We found 37 differentially expressed miRNAs in the CD133+ spheroid-forming subpopulation of OVCAR3 cells, 34 of which were significantly up-regulated, including miR-205, miR-146a, miR-200a, miR-200b, and miR-3, and 3 of which were significantly down-regulated, including miR-1202 and miR-1181.
Our results indicate that dysregulation of miRNA may play a role in the stem cell-like properties of ovarian CSCs.
MicroRNA; Cancer stem cell; Ovarian cancer; CD133; OVCAR3; Chemoresistance
Cancer stem cells (CSCs) have been identified in primary breast cancer tissues and cell lines. The CSC population varies widely among cancerous tissues and cell lines, and is often associated with aggressive breast cancers. Despite of intensive research, how the CSC population is regulated within a tumor is still not well understood so far. In this paper, we present a mathematical model to explore the growth kinetics of CSC population both in vitro and in vivo. Our mathematical models and supporting experiments suggest that there exist non-linear growth kinetics of CSCs and negative feedback mechanisms to control the balance between the population of CSCs and that of non-stem cancer cells. The model predictions can help us explain a few long-standing questions in the field of cancer stem cell research, and can be potentially used to predict the efficicacy of anti-cancer therapy.
Tumor initiating or cancer stem cells (CSCs) are suggested to be responsible for tumor initiation and growth. Moreover, therapy resistance and minimal residual disease are thought to result from selective resistance of CSCs. Isolation of CSCs from colon carcinomas can be accomplished by selection of a subpopulation of tumor cells based on expression of one or multiple cell surface markers associated with cancer stemness, like CD133, CD44, CD24, CD29, CD166 and Lgr5. Identification of colon CSCs will lead to a better rational for new therapies that aim to target this fraction specifically. In this review, we analyze known markers used for selection of colon CSCs and their potential function in CSC biology. Moreover, we discuss potential targeting strategies for eradicating CSCs specifically in order to develop more effective therapeutic strategies as well as to address more fundamental questions like the actual role of CSCs in tumor growth.
colon cancer stem cells; markers; targeting
Lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death. Understanding lung tumors physiopathology should provide opportunity to prevent tumor development or/and improve their therapeutic management. Cancer stem cell (CSC) theory refers to a subpopulation of cancer cells, also named tumor-initiating cells, that can drive cancer development. Cells presenting these characteristics have been identified and isolated from lung cancer. Exploring cell markers and signaling pathways specific to lung CSCs may lead to progress in therapy and improve the prognosis of patients with lung cancer. Continuous efforts in developing in vitro and in vivo models may yield reliable tools to better understand CSC abilities and to test new therapeutic targets. Preclinical data on putative CSC targets are emerging by now. These preliminary studies are critical for the next generation of lung cancer therapies.
microRNAs (miRNAs) have been implicated in the control of many biological processes and their deregulation has been associated with many cancers. In recent years, the cancer stem cell (CSC) concept has been applied to many cancers including pediatric. We hypothesized that a common signature of deregulated miRNAs in the CSCs fraction may explain the disrupted signaling pathways in CSCs.
Using a high throughput qPCR approach we identified 26 CSC associated differentially expressed miRNAs (DEmiRs). Using BCmicrO algorithm 865 potential CSC associated DEmiR targets were obtained. These potential targets were subjected to KEGG, Biocarta and Gene Ontology pathway and biological processes analysis. Four annotated pathways were enriched: cell cycle, cell proliferation, p53 and TGF-beta/BMP. Knocking down hsa-miR-21-5p, hsa-miR-181c-5p and hsa-miR-135b-5p using antisense oligonucleotides and small interfering RNA in cell lines led to the depletion of the CSC fraction and impairment of sphere formation (CSC surrogate assays).
Our findings indicated that CSC associated DEmiRs and the putative pathways they regulate may have potential therapeutic applications in pediatric cancers.
Development of metastasis is a leading cause of cancer-induced death. Acquisition of an invasive tumor cell phenotype suggests loss of cell adhesion and basement membrane breakdown during a process termed epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Recently, cancer stem cells (CSC) were discovered to mediate solid tumor initiation and progression. Prostate CSCs are a subpopulation of CD44+ cells within the tumor that give rise to differentiated tumor cells and also self-renew. Using both primary and established prostate cancer cell lines, we tested the assumption that CSCs are more invasive. The ability of unsorted cells and CD44-positve and -negative subpopulations to undergo Matrigel invasion and EMT was evaluated, and the gene expression profiles of these cells were analyzed by microarray and a subset confirmed using QRT-PCR. Our data reveal that a subpopulation of CD44+ CSC-like cells invade Matrigel through EMT, while in contrast, CD44- cells are non-invasive. Furthermore, the genomic profile of the invasive cells closely resembles that of CD44+CD24- prostate CSCs and shows evidence for increased Hedgehog signaling. Finally, invasive cells from DU145 and primary prostate cancer cells are more tumorigenic in NOD/SCID mice compared with non-invasive cells. Our data strongly suggest that basement membrane invasion, an early and necessary step in metastasis development, is mediated by these potential cancer stem cells.
cancer stem cells; metastasis; invasion; EMT; prostate cancer; hedgehog
Cancer stem cells (CSCs, also called tumor initiating cells) comprise tumor cell subpopulations that preserve the properties of quiescence, self-renewal and differentiation of normal stem cells. CSCs are also therapeutically important because of their key contributions to drug resistance. The hypoxia inducible transcription factor HIF1α is critical for CSC maintenance in mouse lymphoma. Here we show that low concentrations of the HSP90 inhibitor 17-AAG eliminate lymphoma CSCs in vitro and in vivo by disrupting the transcriptional function of HIF1α, a client protein of HSP90. 17-AAG preferentially induced apoptosis and eliminated the colony formation capacity of mouse lymphoma CSCs and human acute myeloid leukemia (AML) CSCs. However, low concentrations of 17-AAG failed to eliminate highly proliferative lymphoma and AML cells (non-CSCs), in which the AKT-GSK3 signaling pathway is constitutively active. The heat shock transcription factor HSF1 is highly expressed in non-CSCs but it was weakly expressed in lymphoma CSCs. However, siRNA-mediated attenuation of HSF1 abrogated the colony formation ability of both lymphoma and AML CSCs. This study supports the use of 17-AAG as a CSC targeting agent, and it also shows that HSF1 is an important target for elimination of both CSCs and non-CSCs in cancer.
Cancer stem cells (CSCs) have been implicated in the maintenance and progression of several types of cancer. The origin and cellular properties of human CSCs are poorly characterized. Here we show that CSC-like cells can be generated in vitro by oncogenic reprogramming of human somatic cells during neoplastic transformation. We find that in vitro transformation confers stem cell properties to primary differentiated fibroblasts, including the ability to self-renew and to differentiate along multiple lineages. Tumours induced by transformed fibroblasts are hierarchically-organized and the cells which act as CSCs to initiate and maintain tumour growth are marked by the stage-specific embryonic antigen SSEA-1. Heterogeneous lineages of cancer cells in the bulk of the tumour arise through differentiation of SSEA-1+ fibroblasts and differentiation is associated with loss of tumorigenic potential. These findings establish an experimental system to characterize cellular and molecular properties of human CSCs and demonstrate that somatic cells have the potential to de-differentiate and acquire properties of CSCs.
The cancer stem cell (CSC) theory is generally acknowledged as an important field of cancer research, not only as an academic matter but also as a crucial aspect of clinical practice. CSCs share a variety of biological properties with normal somatic stem cells in self-renewal, the propagation of differentiated progeny, the expression of specific cell markers and stem cell genes, and the utilization of common signaling pathways and the stem cell niche. However, CSCs differ from normal stem cells in their chemoresistance and their tumorigenic and metastatic activities. In this review, we focus on recent reports regarding the identification of CSC markers and the molecular mechanism of CSC phenotypes to understand the basic properties and molecular target of CSCs. In addition, we especially focus on the CSCs of breast cancer since the use of neoadjuvant chemotherapy can lead to the enrichment of CSCs in patients with that disease. The identification of CSC markers and an improved understanding of the molecular mechanism of CSC phenotypes should lead to progress in cancer therapy and improved prognoses for patients with cancer.
cancer stem cells; breast cancer; EMT; TGF-β; microRNAs
Previous studies have demonstrated that a small subset of cancer cells is capable of tumor initiation. The existence of tumor initiating cancer stem cells (CSCs) has several implications in terms of future cancer treatment and therapies. However, recently, several researchers proposed that differentiated cancer cells (non-CSCs) can convert to stem-like cells to maintain equilibrium. These results imply that removing CSCs may prompt non-CSCs in the tumor to convert into stem cells to maintain the equilibrium. Interleukin-6 (IL-6) has been found to play an important role in the inducible formation of CSCs and their dynamic equilibrium with non-stem cells. In this study, we used CSC-like human breast cancer cells and their alternate subset non-CSCs to investigate how IL-6 regulates the conversion of non-CSCs to CSCs. MDA-MB-231 and MDA-MB-453 CSC-like cells formed mammospheres well, whereas most of non-stem cells died by anoikis and only part of the remaining non-stem cells produced viable mammospheres. Similar results were observed in xenograft tumor formation. Data from cytokine array assay show that IL-6 was secreted from non-CSCs when cells were cultured in ultra-low attachment plates. IL-6 regulates CSC-associated OCT-4 gene expression through the IL-6-JAK1-STAT3 signal transduction pathway in non-CSCs. Inhibiting this pathway by treatment with anti-IL-6 antibody (1 μg/ml) or niclosamide (0.5–2 μM)/LLL12 (5–10 μM) effectively prevented OCT-4 gene expression. These results suggest that the IL-6-JAK1-STAT3 signal transduction pathway plays an important role in the conversion of non-CSCs into CSCs through regulation of OCT-4 gene expression.
cancer stem cells; stochastic status; hierarchy status; conversion
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of most common malignancies in the world. Systemic treatments for HCC, particularly for advanced stages, are limited by the drug resistance phenomenon which ultimately leads to therapy failure. Recent studies have indicated an association between drug resistance and the existence of the cancer stem cells (CSCs) as tumor initiating cells. The CSCs are resistant to conventional chemotherapies and might be related to the mechanisms of the ATP Binding Cassette (ABC) transporters and alterations in the CSCs signaling pathways. Therefore, to contribute to the development of new HCC treatments, further information on the characterization of CSCs, the modulation of the ABC transporters expression and function and the signaling pathway involved in the self renewal, initiation and maintenance of the cancer are required. The combination of transporters modulators/inhibitors with molecular targeted therapies may be a potent strategy to block the tumoral progression. This review summarizes the association of CSCs, drug resistance, ABC transporters activities and changes in signaling pathways as a guide for future molecular therapy for HCC.
Hepatocellular carcinoma; Liver; Cancer stem cells; Drug resistance; Hepatocellular carcinoma therapy
Tumor development is recently hypothesized to depend on a rare cell population with stem cell properties, such cells are called cancer stem cells (CSCs) or tumor-initiating cells (TICs). From various cancer tissues or cancer cell lines, CD133 expressing cells were found to define a unique CSC/TIC phenotype. To study whether that also could be the case in lung cancer, we examined different lung cancer cell lines for CD133 expression.
Among the 4 cell lines studied, only the cell line LC-42 expressed CD133. Therefore, LC-42 was further characterized and studied with special emphasis on identifying the presence of CD133+ CSCs/TICs. FACS sorted CD133high and CD133dim subpopulations from LC-42 showed no differences in soft agar colony-forming capacity and spheres-forming capacity in serum-free cultures. LC-42 cells contained Side Population (SP), and only SP cells were able to form spheres. Furthermore, Nanog expression was significantly higher in SP than in non-SP. However, no difference was observed of CD133 expression in SP and non-SP. When CD133high and CD133dim cells were serially xeno-transplanted in NOD/SCID mice, both formed tumours similar to their parental LC-42 cells. There were no expression differences for NANOG, OCT4 and SOX2 examined immunohistochemically in the xenografts from both cell fractions.
Our data do not show a difference in tumorigenic potential of CD133high and CD133dim cells with respect to any of the parameters analyzed in vitro and in vivo, suggesting that CD133 expression is not restricted to cancer-initiating cells in the human lung cancer cell line LC-42.
Cancer stem cells; Lung cancer cell lines; CD133; CD44; Side population
Cancer stem cells (CSCs), or cancer cells with stem cell properties, have been reported in many human tumors and are thought to be responsible for tumor initiation, therapy resistance, progression, relapse, and metastasis. Despite their potential clinical importance, how CSCs are regulated at the molecular level is not well understood. MicroRNAs (miRNAs), small non-coding RNAs that play critical roles in normal stem cell functions during development, have emerged as important regulators of CSCs as well. In this review, we summarize the current major findings of miRNA regulation of various CSCs and discuss our recent findings that miR-34a suppresses prostate CSCs and metastasis by directly repressing CD44. These recent progresses have important implications for understanding how CSCs are intricately regulated by networks of miRNAs and for developing novel mechanism-based miRNA therapeutics that specifically targets CSCs.
miRNA; cancer stem cells; microRNA; let-7; miR-200; miR-34