Stem cells and development

Human mesenchymal stroma/stem cells exchange membrane proteins and alter functionality during interaction with different tumor cell lines.

PMID 25525832


To analyze effects of cellular interaction between human mesenchymal stroma/stem cells (MSC) and different cancer cells, direct co-cultures were performed and revealed significant growth stimulation of the tumor populations and a variety of protein exchanges. More than 90% of MCF-7 and primary human HBCEC699 breast cancer cells as well as NIH:OVCAR-3 ovarian adenocarcinoma cells acquired CD90 proteins during MSC co-culture, respectively. Furthermore, SK-OV-3 ovarian cancer cells progressively elevated CD105 and CD90 proteins in co-culture with MSC. Primary small cell hypercalcemic ovarian carcinoma cells (SCCOHT-1) demonstrated undetectable levels of CD73 and CD105; however, both proteins were significantly increased in the presence of MSC. This co-culture-mediated protein induction was also observed at transcriptional levels and changed functionality of SCCOHT-1 cells by an acquired capability to metabolize 5'cAMP. Moreover, exchange between tumor cells and MSC worked bidirectional, as undetectable expression of epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM) in MSC significantly increased after co-culture with SK-OV-3 or NIH:OVCAR-3 cells. In addition, a small population of chimeric/hybrid cells appeared in each MSC/tumor cell co-culture by spontaneous cell fusion. Immune fluorescence demonstrated nanotube structures and exosomes between MSC and tumor cells, whereas cytochalasin-D partially abolished the intercellular protein transfer. More detailed functional analysis of FACS-separated MSC and NIH:OVCAR-3 cells after co-culture revealed the acquisition of epithelial cell-specific properties by MSC, including increased gene expression for cytokeratins and epithelial-like differentiation factors. Vice versa, a variety of transcriptional regulatory genes were down-modulated in NIH:OVCAR-3 cells after co-culture with MSC. Together, these mutual cellular interactions contributed to functional alterations in MSC and tumor cells.