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Weill Cornell team identifies new cancer stem cell driving metastatic tumors
Date:5/27/2008

f lacZ to detect the spatial and temporal location of CD133+ cells in vivo," explains co-researcher Andrea T. Hooper, a graduate student in Dr. Rafii's lab.

Studying the expression of CD133 in this genetic model, the researchers, for the first time, were able to visualize a real pattern of CD133 expression in a living organism. "It came as a big surprise that CD133 expression is not restricted to stem cells, but rather defines mature epithelial cells. This finding directed us to explore the actual contribution of CD133+ cells in tumorigenesis," notes the paper's lead author Dr. Sergey Shmelkov, an instructor in genetic medicine at Weill Cornell. "We examined human primary colon tumors, and we also induced colon cancer in CD133 transgenic mice, and discovered that all cancerous epithelial cells in the tumor express CD133, explaining why tumor-initiating cells in primary colon cancer are CD133+."

But was the scenario the same in metastatic disease" To find out, the researchers transferred fresh human metastatic colon cancer cells into immunocompromised mice. They then tracked the tumor formation ability of CD133+ and CD133- cells during metastases in these mice.

The investigators encountered yet another surprise. "We found that not all human colon cancer cells that form metastases were CD133+, as occurs in primary tumors," says co-lead author and postdoctoral fellow Dr. Jason Butler. "CD133- cells -- probably derived from CD133+ cells from the primary tumor -- were also capable of tumor initiation and appeared to play a major role in the formation of metastases. In fact, tumors generated by CD133- cancer stem cells tended to be more aggressive than those originating from CD133+ cells."

The bottom line, according to the Weill Cornellled team, is that origins of metastatic disease appear to be much more complex than that seen with primary cancer.

"There is a subpopulation of cancer stem cells that appears to lose CD133 expre
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Contact: Andrew Klein
ank2017@med.cornell.edu
212-821-0560
New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College
Source:Eurekalert

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