The CEA-/lo colorectal cancer cell population harbors cancer stem cells and metastatic cells.
ABSTRACT: Serum carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) is the most commonly used tumor marker in a variety of cancers including colorectal cancer (CRC) for tumor diagnosis and monitoring. Recent studies have shown that colonic crypt cells expressing little or no CEA may enrich for stem cells. Numerous studies have clearly shown that there exist CRC patients with normal serum CEA levels during tumor progression or even tumor relapse, although CEA itself is considered to promote metastasis and block cell differentiation. These seemingly contradictory observations prompted us to investigate, herein, the biological properties as well as tumorigenic and metastatic capacity of CRC cells that express high (CEA+) versus low CEA (CEA-/lo) levels of CEA. Our findings show that the abundance of CEA-/lo cells correlate with poor differentiation and poor prognosis, and moreover, CEA-/lo cells form more spheres in vitro, generate more tumors and exhibit a higher potential in developing liver and lung metastases than corresponding CEA+ cells. Applying RNAi-mediated approach, we found that IGF1R mediated tumorigenic and capacity of CEA-/lo cells but did not mediate those of CEA+ cells. Notably, our data demonstrated that CEA molecule was capable of protecting CEA-/lo cells from anoikis, implying that CEA+ cells, although themselves possessing less tumorigenic and metastatic capacity, may promote metastasis of CEA-/lo cells via secreting CEA molecule. Our observations suggest that, besides targeting CEA molecule, CEA-/lo cells may represent a critical source of tumor progression and metastasis, and should therefore be the target of future therapies.
Project description:Prostate cancer (PCa) is heterogeneous and contains both differentiated and undifferentiated tumor cells, but the relative functional contribution of these two cell populations remains unclear. Here we report distinct molecular, cellular, and tumor-propagating properties of PCa cells that express high (PSA(+)) and low (PSA(-/lo)) levels of the differentiation marker PSA. PSA(-/lo) PCa cells are quiescent and refractory to stresses including androgen deprivation, exhibit high clonogenic potential, and possess long-term tumor-propagating capacity. They preferentially express stem cell genes and can undergo asymmetric cell division to generate PSA(+) cells. Importantly, PSA(-/lo) PCa cells can initiate robust tumor development and resist androgen ablation in castrated hosts, and they harbor highly tumorigenic castration-resistant PCa cells that can be prospectively enriched using ALDH(+)CD44(+)?2?1(+) phenotype. In contrast, PSA(+) PCa cells possess more limited tumor-propagating capacity, undergo symmetric division, and are sensitive to castration. Altogether, our study suggests that PSA(-/lo) cells may represent a critical source of castration-resistant PCa cells.
Project description:We have recently discovered a unique CD34(lo)CD133(lo) cell population in the human fetal liver (FL) that gives rise to cells in the hepatic lineage. In this study, we further characterized the biological functions of FL CD34(lo)CD133(lo) cells. Our findings show that these CD34(lo)CD133(lo) cells express markers of both endodermal and mesodermal lineages and have the capability to differentiate into hepatocyte and mesenchymal lineage cells by ex vivo differentiation assays. Furthermore, we show that CD34(lo)CD133(lo) cells express growth factors that are important for human hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) expansion: stem cell factor (SCF), insulin-like growth factor 2 (IGF2), C-X-C motif chemokine 12 (CXCL12), and factors in the angiopoietin-like protein family. Co-culture of autologous FL HSCs and allogenic HSCs derived from cord blood with CD34(lo)CD133(lo) cells supports and expands both types of HSCs.These findings are not only essential for extending our understanding of the HSC niche during the development of embryonic and fetal hematopoiesis but will also potentially benefit adult stem cell transplantations in clinics because expanded HSCs demonstrate the same capacity as primary cells to reconstitute the human immune system and mediate long-term hematopoiesis in vivo. Together, CD34(lo)CD133(lo) cells not only serve as stem/progenitor cells for liver development but are also an essential component of the HSC niche in the human FL.
Project description:Metastasis is a well-known poor prognostic factor in cancer. However, the mechanisms how long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) regulate metastasis in colorectal cancer (CRC) remain largely unknown. Besides, tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) play an important role in tumor progression, yet the contribution of lncRNA-mediated crosstalk between TAMs and CRC cells to tumor progression is not well understood. In this study, we report that lncRNA RPPH1 was significantly upregulated in CRC tissues, and the RPPH1 overexpression was associated with advanced TNM stages and poor prognosis. RPPH1 was found to promote CRC metastasis in vitro and in vivo. Mechanistically, RPPH1 induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) of CRC cells via interacting with ?-III tubulin (TUBB3) to prevent its ubiquitination. Furthermore, CRC cell-derived exosomes transported RPPH1 into macrophages which mediate macrophage M2 polarization, thereby in turn promoting metastasis and proliferation of CRC cells. In addition, exosomal RPPH1 levels in blood plasma turned out to be higher in treatment-naive CRC patients but lower after tumor resection. Compared to CEA and CA199, exosomal RPPH1 in CRC plasma displayed a better diagnostic value (AUC?=?0.86). Collectively, RPPH1 serves as a potential therapeutic and diagnostic target in CRC.
Project description:Transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta signaling occurs through Smads 2/3/4, which translocate to the nucleus to regulate transcription; TGF-beta has tumor-suppressive effects in some tumor models and pro-metastatic effects in others. In patients with colorectal cancer (CRC), mutations or reduced levels of Smad4 have been correlated with reduced survival. However, the function of Smad signaling and the effects of TGF-beta-receptor kinase inhibitors have not been analyzed during CRC metastasis. We investigated the role of TGF-beta/Smad signaling in CRC progression.We evaluated the role of TGF-beta/Smad signaling on cell proliferation, migration, invasion, tumorigenicity, and metastasis in Smad4-null colon carcinoma cell lines (MC38 and SW620) and in those that transgenically express Smad4. We also determined the effects of a TGF-beta-receptor kinase inhibitor (LY2109761) in CRC tumor progression and metastasis in mice.TGF-beta induced migration/invasion, tumorigenicity, and metastasis of Smad4-null MC38 and SW620 cells; incubation with LY2109761 reversed these effects. In mice, LY2109761 blocked metastasis of CRC cells to liver, inducing cancer cell expression of E-cadherin and reducing the expression of the tumorigenic proteins matrix metalloproteinase-9, nm23, urokinase plasminogen activator, and cyclooxygenase-2. Transgenic expression of Smad4 significantly reduced the oncogenic potential of MC38 and SW620 cells; in these transgenic cells, TGF-beta had tumor suppressor, rather than tumorigenic, effects.TGF-beta/Smad signaling suppresses progression and metastasis of CRC cells and tumors in mice. Loss of Smad4 might underlie the functional shift of TGF-beta from a tumor suppressor to a tumor promoter; inhibitors of TGF-beta signaling might be developed as CRC therapeutics.
Project description:The present study investigated the value of combinations of five specific tumor biomarkers for the diagnosis of colorectal cancer (CRC): Neuron-specific enolase (NSE), carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), cancer antigen (CA)19-9, CA125 and CA242. Associations between these markers and clinicopathological characteristics (including the Tumor-Node-Metastasis stage) were also assessed. Serum levels of the 5 markers were compared between 358 patients with CRC and 298 healthy individuals (CRC and control group, respectively). The NSE concentration of the CRC group was significantly higher compared with the control. Furthermore, patients at clinical stage III+IV exhibited significantly higher NSE levels compared with those at stage I+II. The serum NSE level of N+ patients was significantly higher compared with the N- group, and the NSE level of M1 patients was significantly compared with the M0 group. NSE level was also significantly associated with tumor stage, lymph node metastasis, distant metastasis and hematochezia. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) for NSE in CRC was 0.766, which was significantly higher than that of the other four markers, which ranged from 0.560-0.682. The AUC of NSE, CEA, CA19-9, CA125, CA242 combined was significantly higher compared with any of the markers individually (range, 0.796-0.858). Therefore, serum NSE may be a good clinical tool for the auxiliary diagnosis of colorectal cancer. Besides, the combination of NSE, CEA, CA19-9, CA125 and CA242 was significantly more sensitive compared with NSE alone. Thus, the combined detection of the 5 tumor markers may be more useful for the diagnosis of CRC.
Project description:Colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the leading causes of cancer death worldwide, and metastasis is the major cause of CRC-related mortality. Transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-?) has a central role not only in the regulation of the normal colon but also in the development and metastasis of CRC. However, TGF-? is not considered an ideal therapeutic target because it shows both pro-tumorigenic and anti-tumorigenic activity, depending on the tumor stage. Therefore, it is important to find a downstream signaling component of TGF-? that can be targeted to impair CRC metastasis. Here, we show that TGF-? promotes CRC migration and upregulates the expression of long-noncoding RNA Taurine Upregulated Gene 1 (TUG1). TUG1 knockdown inhibited migration, invasion, and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) of CRC cells in vitro, and reduced CRC lung metastasis in vivo. TGF-? induced metastasis, and TUG1 knockdown inhibited these effects. In addition, TGF-? could not reverse the anti-metastasis effects of TUG1 knockdown. These data demonstrate that TUG1 is a downstream molecular of TGF-?. Moreover, TWIST1 expression was increased with TGF-? treatment, and TUG1 knockdown decreased TWIST1 expression in CRC cells. TWIST1 knockdown inhibited invasion and EMT in CRC cells; these effects were not changed by simultaneous TUG1 knockdown, indicating that TWIST1 is a downstream mediator of TUG1. Moreover, TUG1 was significantly overexpressed in CRC patients. In conclusion, TGF-? promotes metastasis of CRC via a TUG1/TWIST1/EMT signaling pathway. TUG1 may be a promising drug target to inhibit TGF-? pathway activation in the treatment of CRC.
Project description:Elevated levels of the carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA; CEACAM5) in the serum of colorectal cancer (CRC) patients represent a clinical biomarker that correlates with disease recurrence. However, a mechanistic role for soluble CEA (sCEA) in tumor progression and metastasis remains to be established. In our study, we report that sCEA acts as a paracrine factor, activating human fibroblasts by signaling through both the STAT3 and AKT1-mTORC1 pathways, promoting their transition to a cancer-associated fibroblast (CaF) phenotype. sCEA-activated fibroblasts express and secrete higher levels of fibronectin, including cellular EDA+ -fibronectin (Fn-EDA) that selectively promote the implantation and adherence of CEA-expressing cancer cells. Immunohistochemical analyses of liver tissues derived from CRC patients with elevated levels of sCEA reveal that the expression of cellular Fn-EDA co-registers with CEA-expressing liver metastases. Taken together, these findings indicate a direct role for sCEA as a human fibroblast activation factor, in priming target tissues for the engraftment of CEA-expressing cancer cells, through the differentiation of tissue-resident fibroblasts, resulting in a local change in composition of the extracellular matrix.
Project description:With the increasing incidence and mortality of colorectal cancer (CRC), early and accurate diagnosis is of paramount priority to combat this cancer. Epigenetic alterations such as DNA methylation are innovative biomarkers for CRC, due to their stability, frequency, and accessibility in bodily fluids. In this study, blood samples were prospectively collected from patients before and after operation for CRC for determination of methylated septin 9 (mSEPT9) and compared to carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA). The sensitivity of using mSEPT9 methylation status for diagnosing CRC was significantly higher than using elevated CEA levels (73.2% vs 48.2%; p value < 0.001). The sensitivities of both tests increased with higher tumor staging (P = 0.004 and 0.04 respectively). Combined mSEPT9 and CEA had higher accuracy than single CEA or mSEPT9 (P = 0.009 and 0.532 separately). An increase in the methylation level of mSEPT9 detected in the post-operative samples was associated with a higher mortality rate (15.2% vs 1.8%; P = 0.024) and the presence of metastasis (27.3% vs 7.0%; P = 0.013). mSEPT9 was more sensitive than CEA for diagnosing CRC, and combined mSEPT9 and CEA was more accurate. After curative resection, detection of increased mSEPT9 methylation level may indicate adverse outcomes.
Project description:We have shown that carcinoembryonic antigen cell adhesion molecule 1 long isoform (CEACAM1-L) expression in MC38 metastatic colorectal cancer (CRC) cells results in liver metastasis inhibition via CCL2 and STAT3 signaling. But other molecular mechanisms orchestrating CEACAM1-L-mediated metastasis inhibition remain to be defined. We screened a panel of mouse and human CRC cells and evaluated their metastatic outcome after CEACAM1 overexpression or downregulation. An unbiased transcript profiling and a phospho-receptor tyrosine kinase screen comparing MC38 CEACAM1-L-expressing and non-expressing (CT) CRC cells revealed reduced ephrin type-A receptor 2 (EPHA2) expression and activity. An EPHA2-specific inhibitor reduced EPHA2 downstream signaling in CT cells similar to that in CEACAM1-L cells with decreased proliferation and migration. Human CRC patients exhibiting high CEACAM1 in combination with low EPHA2 expression benefited from longer time to first recurrence/metastasis compared to those with high EPHA2 expression. With the added interaction of CEACAM6, we denoted that CEACAM1 high- and EPHA2 low-expressing patient samples with lower CEACAM6 expression also exhibited a longer time to first recurrence/metastasis. In HT29 human CRC cells, down-regulation of CEACAM1 along with CEA and CEACAM6 up-regulation led to higher metastatic burden. Overall, CEACAM1-L expression in poorly differentiated CRC can inhibit liver metastasis through cell context-dependent EPHA2-mediated signaling. However, CEACAM1's role should be considered in the presence of other CEACAM family members.
Project description:Liver is the most common site of distant metastasis in colorectal cancer (CRC). Early diagnosis and appropriate treatment selection decides overall prognosis of patients. However, current diagnostic measures were basically imaging but not functional. Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) known as hold the key to understand the biology of metastatic mechanism provide a novel and auxiliary diagnostic strategy for CRC with liver metastasis (CRC-LM).The expression of CD133+ and CD133+CD54+CD44+ cellular subpopulations were higher in the peripheral blood of CRC-LM patients when compared with those without metastasis (P<0.001). Multivariate analysis proved the association between the expression of CD133+CD44+CD54+ cellular subpopulation and the existence of CRC-LM (P<0.001). The combination of abdominal CT/MRI, CEA and the CD133+CD44+CD54+ cellular subpopulation showed increased detection and discrimination rate for liver metastasis, with a sensitivity of 88.2% and a specificity of 92.4%. Meanwhile, it also show accurate predictive value for liver metastasis (OR=2.898, 95% C.I.1.374-6.110).Flow cytometry and multivariate analysis was performed to detect the expression of cancer initiating cells the correlation between cellular subpopulations and liver metastasis in patients with CRC. The receiver operating characteristic curves combined with the area under the curve were generated to compare the predictive ability of the cellular subpopulation for liver metastasis with current CT and MRI images.The identification, expression and application of CTC subpopulations will provide an ideal cellular predictive marker for CRC liver metastasis and a potential marker for further investigation.