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Epigenetic regulation of CD271, a potential cancer stem cell marker associated with chemoresistance and metastatic capacity.

  • Author(s): Li, Sulan;
  • Yue, Dongli;
  • Chen, Xinfeng;
  • Wang, Liping;
  • Li, Jieyao;
  • Ping, Yu;
  • Gao, Qun;
  • Wang, Dan;
  • Zhang, Tengfei;
  • Li, Feng;
  • Yang, Li;
  • Huang, Lan;
  • Zhang, Yi
  • et al.

Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are considered to be the cause of tumor initiation, metastasis and recurrence. Additionally, CSCs are responsible for the failure of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The isolation and identification of CSCs is crucial for facilitating the monitoring, therapy or prevention of cancer. We aimed to identify esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) stem-like cells, the epigenetic mechanism and identify novel biomarkers for targeting ESCC CSCs. Sixty-three paired ESCC tissues and adjacent non-cancerous tissues were included in this study. CD271, which was identified as the CSC marker for melanoma, was assessed using quantitative PCR (qPCR). Using flow cytometry, we isolated CD271+ cells comprising 7.5% of cancer cells from the KYSE70 cell line. Sphere formation and anchorage-independent growth were analyzed in CD271+ and CD271- cancer cells, respectively. qPCR was used to detect stem-related genes and CCK-8 was performed to analyze the sensitivity to chemotherapy in the two groups. Bisulfite genomic sequencing was used to analyze the methylation status. CD271 expression was significantly higher in ESCC tissues than in adjacent non-cancerous tissues. Compared with CD271- cancer cells, CD271+ cancer cells showed a higher ability of sphere and colony formation, a high level expression of stem-related gene, and resistance to chemotherapy. The expression of CD271 was induced by a demethylation agent. In conclusion, CD271+ ESCC cells possess stem-like properties. CD271 can potentially act as a prognostic marker for ESCC, whose expression is regulated epigenetically.

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