Cultivation and identification of colon cancer stem cell-derived spheres from the Colo205 cell line

Ying-fei Li, Bing Xiao, San-fang Tu, Yuan-yuan Wang, Xiao-lang Zhang
Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research 2012, 45 (3): 197-204
Our group established a method to culture spheres under serum-free culture condition. However, the biological characteristics and the tumorigenicity of spheres are unknown. Here, we demonstrate that sphere cells expressed high levels of the putative colorectal cancer stem cell markers CD133 and CD44. The CD133-positive rates were 13.27 ± 5.62, 52.71 ± 16.97 and 16.47 ± 2.45% in sphere cells, regular Colo205 cells and differentiated sphere cells, respectively, while the CD44-positive rates were 62.92 ± 8.38, 79.06 ± 12.10 and 47.80 ± 2.5%, respectively, and the CD133/CD44-double-positive rates were 10.77 ± 4.96, 46.89 ± 19.17 and 12.41 ± 2.27%, respectively (P < 0.05). Cancer sphere cells formed crypt-like structures in 3-D culture. Moreover, cells from cancer spheres exhibited more tumorigenicity than regular Colo205 cells in a xenograft assay. The cancer sphere cells displayed much higher oncogenicity than regular Colo205 cells to initiate neoplasms, as assayed by H&E staining, Musashi-1 staining and electron microscopy. Our findings indicated that the sphere cells were enriched with cancer stem cells (CSCs), and exhibited more proliferation capacity, more differentiation potential and especially more tumorigenicity than regular Colo205 cells in vitro and in vivo. Further isolation and characterization of these CSCs may provide new insights for novel therapeutic targets and prognostic markers.

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