A novel paradigm in tumor biology suggests that cancer growth is driven by stem-like cells within a tumor, called tumor-initiating cells (TICs) or cancer stem cells (CSCs). Here we describe the identification and characterization of such cells from hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) using the marker CD133. CD133 accounts for approximately 1.3%-13.6% of the cells in the bulk tumor of human primary HCC samples. When compared with their CD133-counterparts, CD133+cells not only possess the preferential ability to form undifferentiated tumor spheroids in vitro but also express an enhanced level of stem cell-associated genes, have a greater ability to form tumors when implanted orthotopically in immunodeficient mice, and can be serially passaged into secondary animal recipients. Xenografts resemble the original human tumor and maintain a similar percentage of tumorigenic CD133+cells. Quantitative PCR analysis of 41 separate HCC tissue specimens with follow-up data found that CD133+tumor cells were frequently detected at low quantities in HCC, and their presence was also associated with worse overall survival and higher recurrence rates. Subsequent differential microRNA expression profiling of CD133+and CD133-cells from human HCC clinical specimens and cell lines identified an overexpression of miR-130b in CD133+TICs. Functional studies on miR-130b lentiviral-transduced CD133-cells demonstrated superior resistance to chemotherapeutic agents, enhanced tumorigenicity in vivo, and a greater potential for self renewal. Conversely, antagonizing miR-130b in CD133+TICs yielded an opposing effect. The increased miR-130b paralleled the reduced TP53INP1, a known miR-130b target. Silencing TP53INP1 in CD133-cells enhanced both self renewal and tumorigenicity in vivo. Collectively, miR-130b regulates CD133+liver TICs, in part, via silencing TP53INP1.
- Molecular Medicine
- Cell Biology