Stem cell models for genetically predisposed colon cancer

Nitin Telang
Oncology Letters 2020, 20 (5): 138
Negative growth regulatory tumor suppressor genes and positive growth regulatory oncogenes serve important roles in initiation/progression of colon cancer. Germline mutation in the adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) tumor suppressor gene represents a primary genetic defect for familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) syndrome, a predisposing factor for clinical colon cancer. Somatic mutations in the APC gene are common in sporadic colon cancer. Preclinical and clinical efficacy is documented for targeted therapy with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, selective cyclo-oxygenase-2 inhibitors for prostaglandin biosynthesis and selective inhibitor of ornithine decarboxylase for polyamine biosynthesis. However, these therapeutic options lead to systemic toxicity, acquired tumor resistance and emergence of therapy resistant cancer stem cells. By contrast, non-toxic natural products are unlikely to exhibit drug resistance and may represent testable alternatives for therapy resistant colon cancer. Tumorigenic Apc [-/-] colonic epithelial cell lines derived from preclinical FAP models provide novel cellular models for drug resistant cancer stem cells. Apc [-/-] Sulindac resistant (SUL-R) cells exhibit upregulated expression levels of cancer stem cell markers. Natural products, such as naturally occurring vitamin A derivative all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) and the anti-cancer agent from Turmeric root curcumin (CUR), represent testable alternatives. Relative to the non-tumorigenic Apc [+/+] C57 COL colonic epithelial cells, the tumorigenic Apc [-/-] 1638N COL and Apc [-/-] 850 MIN COL cells exhibit aneuploid cell hyper-proliferation and upregulated expression of Apc target genes β-catenin, cyclin D1, c-myc and COX-2. The SUL-R phenotypes exhibit enhanced tumor spheroid formation and upregulated expression levels of stem cell markers CD44, CD133 and c-Myc. Treatment of the SUL-R stem cells with ATRA and CUR inhibits tumor spheroid formation and reduces the expression of stem cell markers. Stem cell models developed for FAP syndrome provide a novel experimental approach to identify mechanistic leads for efficacious natural products as testable alternatives for therapy-resistant, genetically predisposed colon cancer.

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