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J Pathol. 2009 Dec;219(4):427-34. doi: 10.1002/path.2597.

The cancer stem cell marker CD133 has high prognostic impact but unknown functional relevance for the metastasis of human colon cancer.

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Pathologisches Institut der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Thalkirchner Strasse 36, 80337 München, Germany.


In colon cancer, CD133 has recently been used to enrich for a subset of tumour cells with tumour-initiating capabilities and was therefore suggested to mark colon cancer stem cells. However, this molecule has surprisingly been shown to lack functional importance for tumour initiation itself. Herein, we investigated whether CD133 may be relevant for colon cancer metastasis in patients, and as metastasis requires several additional biological characteristics besides tumour initiation, we examined the effects of knocking down CD133 expression in colon cancer cell lines on proliferation, migration, invasion, and colony formation. We demonstrate that high CD133 expression correlates strongly with synchronous liver metastasis in a matched case-control collection, while siRNA-mediated knock down of this factor has no significant effect on the mentioned biological characteristics. Thus, we conclude that CD133 expression is a marker with high prognostic impact for colon cancer, while it seems to have no obvious functional role as a driving force of this malignancy.

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