Human Genetics & Embryology

ISSN: 2161-0436

Open Access

Enrichment and Selective Targeting of Cancer Stem Cells in Colorectal Cancer Cell Lines


Shunqi Wang, Deepak Kanojia, Pang-kuo Lo, Varun Chandrashekaran, Xinrui Duan, Franklin G Berger, Qian Wang and Hexin Chen

Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are the subpopulation of cells within a tumor proposed to be responsible for tumor initiation, relapses, and resistance to chemotherapeutic drugs. Here we optimized sphere culture conditions to isolate and enrich CSCs from colorectal cancer cell line IMCE-Ras. Spheroid cells that developed in culture expressed high levels of putative stem cell markers, and showed stronger anchorage-independent growth abilities and resistance to conventional chemotherapeutic drugs compared with the initial monolayer adherent cells. Xenograft transplantation assays further demonstrated that IMCE-Ras spheroid cells are highly enriched in CSCs. To develop CSC-targeted therapy, we found that the relative percentage of CSC in IMCE-Ras cells was significantly decreased after a short duration exposure to DNA Methylation inhibitor 5-aza-2’-deoxycytidine (5-Aza-dC), indicating that DNA Methylation may be critical for self-renewal and maintenance of CSCs. Indeed, double knockout of DNA methyltransferase 1 (DNMT1) and DNA methyltransferase 3b (DNMT3b) in colon cancer cell line HCT116 resulted in loss of >95% DNA Methylation and complete loss of tumorigenicity both in vitro and in vivo. These data suggest that DNA Methylation is critical for maintenance of the colon CSC population, and a combination of classical chemotherapeutic drugs and DNA Methylation inhibitors may be an effective treatment of colon cancer.


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