Objective: Although various human cancer stem cells (CSCs) have been defined, their applications are restricted to immunocompromised models. Developing a novel CSC model which could be used in immunocompetent or transgenic mice is essential for further understanding of the biomolecular characteristics of tumor stem cells. Therefore, in this study, we analyzed murine lung cancer cells for the presence of CSCs.
Methods: Side population (SP) cells were isolated by fluorescence activated cell sorting, followed by serum-free medium (SFM) culture, using Lewis lung carcinoma cell (LLC) line. The self-renewal, differentiated progeny, chemosensitivity, and tumorigenic properties in SP and non-SP cells were investigated through in vitro culture and in vivo serial transplantation. Differential expression profiles of stem cell markers were examined by RT-PCR.
Results: The SP cell fraction comprised 1.1% of the total LLC population. SP cells were available to grow in SFM, and had significantly enhanced capacity for cell proliferation and colony formation. They were also more resistant to cisplatin in comparison to non-SP cells, and displayed increased tumorigenic ability. Moreover, SP cells showed higher mRNA expression of Oct-4, ABCG2, and CD44.
Conclusion: We identified SP cells from a murine lung carcinoma, which possess well-known characteristics of CSCs. Our study established a useful model that should allow investigation of the biological features and pharmacosensitivity of lung CSCs, both in vitro and in syngeneic immunocompetent or transgenic/knockout mice.