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Mol Cancer. 2010 Jul 14;9:192. doi: 10.1186/1476-4598-9-192.

New-generation taxoid SB-T-1214 inhibits stem cell-related gene expression in 3D cancer spheroids induced by purified colon tumor-initiating cells.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, SUNY Stony Brook, NY, USA.



Growing evidence suggests that the majority of tumors are organized hierarchically, comprising a population of tumor-initiating, or cancer stem cells (CSCs) responsible for tumor development, maintenance and resistance to drugs. Previously we have shown that the CD133high/CD44high fraction of colon cancer cells is different from their bulk counterparts at the functional, morphological and genomic levels. In contrast to the majority of colon cancer cells expressing moderate levels of CD133, CD44 and CD166, cells with a high combined expression of CD133 and CD44 possessed several characteristic stem cell features, including profound self-renewal capacity in vivo and in vitro, and the ability to give rise to different cell phenotypes. The present study was undertaken for two aims: a) to determine stem cell-related genomic characteristics of floating 3D multicellular spheroids induced by CD133high/CD44high colon cancer cells; and b) to evaluate CSC-specific alterations induced by new-generation taxoid SB-T-1214.


Selected CSC phenotype was isolated from three independent invasive colon cancer cell lines, HCT116, HT29 and DLD-1. A stem cell-specific PCR array assay (SABiosciences) revealed that colonospheres induced by purified CD133high/CD44high expressing cells display profound up-regulation of stem cell-related genes in comparison with their bulk counterparts. The FACS analysis has shown that the 3D colonospheres contained some minority cell populations with high levels of expression of Oct4, Sox2, Nanog and c-Myc, which are essential for stem cell pluripotency and self-renewal. Single administration of the SB-T-1214 at concentration 100 nM-1 microM for 48 hr not only induced growth inhibition and apoptotic cell death in these three types of colon cancer spheroids in 3D culture, but also mediated massive inhibition of the stem cell-related genes and significant down-regulation of the pluripotency gene expression. PCR array and FACS data were confirmed with western blotting. Importantly, viable cells that survived this treatment regimen were no longer able to induce secondary floating spheroids and exhibited significant morphological abnormalities.


We report here that a new-generation taxoid SB-T-1214 possesses significant activity against colon cancer spheroids induced by and enriched with drug resistant tumorigenic CD133high/CD44high cells and efficiently inhibited expression of the majority of stem cell-related genes. Our data indicates that the previously observed long-term efficacy of SB-T-1214 against drug resistant colon tumors in vivo may be explained by the down-regulation of multiple stem cell-related genes in the tumorigenic cell population, in addition to its known efficacy as a mitotic poison against proliferating cancer cells.

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