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Genes Chromosomes Cancer. 2012 Aug;51(8):792-804. doi: 10.1002/gcc.21964. Epub 2012 Apr 18.

Genotype analysis of tumor-initiating cells expressing CD133 in neuroblastoma.

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Centre de recherche CHU Sainte-Justine, Montréal, QC, Canada.


Neuroblastoma (NB) is the most common and lethal extracranial solid tumor of childhood. Despite aggressive therapy, more than half of the children with advanced NB will die of uncontrolled metastatic disease. After chemotherapy, tumor-initiating cells (TICs) could persist, cause relapses and metastasis. The aim of this study is to demonstrate the tumor-initiating properties of CD133high NB cells and to identify new specific genetic abnormalities. Isolation of the CD133high cell population from NB cell lines was followed by neurosphere formation, soft agar assays, and orthotopic injections in NOD/SCID/IL2Rγc-null mice. A differential genotyping analysis was performed with Affymetrix SNP 6.0 arrays on CD133low and CD133high populations and the frequency of the abnormalities of 36 NB tumors was determined. Our results show that CD133high NB cells possess tumor-initiating properties, as CD133high cells formed significantly more neurospheres and produced significantly more colonies in soft agar than CD133low. Injection of 500 CD133high cells was sufficient to generate primary tumors and frequent metastases in mice. Differential genotyping analysis demonstrated two common regions with gains (16p13.3 and 19p13.3) including the gene EFNA2 in the CD133high population, and two with loss of heterozygosity (16q12.1 and 21q21.3) in the CD133low population. The gain of EFNA2 correlated with increased expression of the corresponding protein. These abnormalities were found in NB samples and some were significantly correlated with CD133 expression. Our results show that CD133high NB cells have TICs properties and present different genotyping characteristics compared to CD133low cells. Our findings reveal insights into new therapeutic targets in NB TICs.

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