Mel-18 Controls the Enrichment of Tumor-initiating Cells in SP Fraction in Mouse Breast Cancer
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Side population (SP) cell analysis has been used to identify and isolate a minor population of cells with stem cell properties in normal tissues and in many cancers including breast cancer cells. However, the molecular mechanisms that operate in tumor-initiating cells (TICs) in SP fraction remain unclear. The Polycomb group genes, including Bmi1 and Mel-18, have been implicated in the maintenance of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and suggested to be oncogenic and tumor suppressive, respectively, in breast cancer. In this study, we determined the critical role of Mel-18 in the enrichment mechanisms of TICs with the SP phenotype in a mouse breast cancer cell line, MMK3, that was established from a breast cancer developed spontaneously in Mel-18+/- mice. The Mel-18 protein expression level significantly correlates to the percentage of SP fraction in the mouse breast cancer cell line MMK3 series. The comparison between MMK3V3 (V3) cells containing one copy of the Mel-18 gene and MMK3S2 (S2) cells having twice the amount of Mel-18 expression clearly demonstrates the above relationship.
Similar results obtained with the percentage of ALDH+ cells in V3 and S2 further confirmed the correlation between protein expression level of Mel-18 and the TICs. More importantly, transplantation of SP and non-SP cells of V3 and S2 cells into the NOD/SCID mice clearly showed that the heterozygous level of Mel-18 leads to the disappearance of enrichment of TICs into SP fraction in vivo. Stem cell pathway focused gene expression profiling of V3 and S2 cells revealed that the genes Abcg2, Aldh1a1 and Dhh were highly down-regulated in V3 compared to S2. These results indicate that the precise Mel-18 expression level controls TIC enrichment mechanisms through the regulation of channel molecule of Abcg2 and functional TIC marker of Aldh1a1. In conclusion, our findings revealed the significance of fine-tuning mechanisms for Mel-18 protein expression level in the maintenance of TIC into SP fractions in mouse breast cancer
Hiroshima Journal of Medical Sciences
Hiroshima University Medical Press
(c) Hiroshima University Medical Press.