Molecular cancer

The Wnt/beta-catenin pathway regulates growth and maintenance of colonospheres.

PMID 20691072


Recent evidence suggests that epithelial cancers, including colorectal cancer are driven by a small sub-population of self-renewing, multi-potent cells termed cancer stem cells (CSCs) which are thought to be responsible for recurrence of cancer. One of the characteristics of CSCs is their ability to form floating spheroids under anchorage-independent conditions in a serum-free defined media. The current investigation was undertaken to examine the role of Wnt/beta-catenin pathway in regulating the growth and maintenance of colonospheres. Human colon cancer cells HCT-116 (p53 wild type; K-ras mutant), HCT-116 (p53 null; K-ras mutant) and HT-29 (p53 mutant) were used. Colonospheres formed in vitro exhibited higher expression of colon CSCs markers LGR5, CD44, CD166 and Musashi-1 along with putative CSC marker EpCAM, compared to the corresponding parental cancer cells and also exhibit the ability to form spheroids under extreme limiting dilution, indicating the predominance of CSCs in colonospheres. Colonospheres formed by HCT-116 cells show over 80% of the cells to be CD44 positive, compared to