High expression of hTERT and stemness genes in BORIS/CTCFL positive cells isolated from embryonic cancer cells.

PloS one (2014-10-04)
Loredana Alberti, Stéphanie Renaud, Lorena Losi, Serge Leyvraz, Jean Benhattar

BORIS/CTCFL is a member of cancer testis antigen family normally expressed in germ cells. In tumors, it is aberrantly expressed although its functions are not completely well-defined. To better understand the functions of BORIS in cancer, we selected the embryonic cancer cells as a model. Using a molecular beacon, which specifically targets BORIS mRNA, we demonstrated that BORIS positive cells are a small subpopulation of tumor cells (3-5% of total). The BORIS-positive cells isolated using BORIS-molecular beacon, expressed higher telomerase hTERT, stem cell (NANOG, OCT4, SOX2) and cancer stem cell marker genes (CD44 and ALDH1) compared to the BORIS-negative tumor cells. In order to define the functional role of BORIS, stable BORIS-depleted embryonic cancer cells were generated. BORIS silencing strongly down-regulated the expression of hTERT, stem cell and cancer stem cell marker genes. Moreover, the BORIS knockdown increased cellular senescence in embryonic cancer cells, revealing a putative role of BORIS in the senescence biological program. Our data indicate an association of BORIS expressing cells subpopulation with the expression of stemness genes, highlighting the critical role played by BORIS in embryonic neoplastic disease.

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