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Cancer Lett. 2008 Sep 8;268(1):1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2008.03.048. Epub 2008 May 19.

Side population cells in human cancers.

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Program in Developmental and Stem Cell Biology, Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto, Toronto Medical Discovery Tower, East Tower, 101 College Street, Toronto, Ont., Canada M5G 1L7.


Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are found in multiple tumor types. While the presence of surface markers selectively expressed on CSCs are used to isolate these cells, no marker or pattern of makers are known to prospectively identify CSCs in many tumor types. In such cases exploitation of stem cell characteristics can be used to identify CSCs and one such characteristic is the capacity to extrude dyes such as Hoechst 33342. Cell that exclude this dye are referred to as side population (SP) cells. These cells share characteristics of CSCs, specifically, they are enriched for tumor initiating capacity, they express stem-like genes, and they are resistant to chemotherapeutic drugs. Dye exclusion is a valuable technique as it identifies a unique population of cells with stem-like characteristics.

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