Cancer initiating-cells are enriched in the CA9 positive fraction of primary cervix cancer xenografts.

PMID 27901496


Numerous studies have suggested that Cancer Initiating Cells (CIC) can be identified/enriched in cell populations obtained from solid tumors based on the expression of cell surface marker proteins. We used early passage primary cervix cancer xenografts to sort cells based on the expression of the intrinsic hypoxia marker Carbonic Anhydrase 9 (CA9) and tested their cancer initiation potential by limiting dilution assay. We demonstrated that CICs are significantly enriched in the CA9+ fraction in 5/6 models studied. Analyses of the expression of the stem cell markers Oct4, Notch1, Sca-1 & Bmi1 showed a trend toward an increase in the CA9+ populations, albeit not significant. We present evidence that enhanced autophagy does not play a role in the enhanced growth of the CA9+ cells. Our study suggests a direct in vivo functional link between hypoxic cells and CICs in primary cervix cancer xenografts.