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In the last decades cancer has evolved as the most common human disease with lung cancer toping the ranking. All over the
world different theories have tried to explain the emergence, development and progression of human tumors, although none
have yet fully succeeded on its task. One of the recent and most appealing theories argues that the heterogeneous nature of
each tumor encompasses a specific population of cells, with Stem Cells (SCs) like properties, which gives rise to the bulk of the
tumor cells with more differentiated phenotypes1. Although, these Cancer Stem Cells (CSCs) have been blamed as responsible
for tumor recurrence and resistance to conventional therapies2, their origin is rather controversial.
Aiming to understand the mechanisms underlying hexavalent chromium [Cr(VI)] induced lung cancer, we succeeded to
induce the malignant transformation of the non-tumorigenic bronchial epithelial cell line (BEAS-2B) following exposure to
occupational relevant Cr(VI) concentrations3. Subsequently, the resulting RenG2 cell line malignant potential was increased
following successive rounds of transplantations in athymic nude mice4. Metabolic and cell cycle studies revealed that the
more malignant RenG2-derivative cell lines (DRenG2 and DDRenG2) have increased glycolytic metabolism and decreased
replicative index. Additionally, sphere-formation assays also revealed positive only for DRenG2 and DDRenG2 cell lines and
the molecular characterization of those cultures confirmed their CSCs-identity.
Apparently, the increased malignant potential of DRenG2 and DDRenG2 cell lines can be ascribed to a process of cellular
dedifferentiation leading to the emergence of CSC-like sub-populations in both cell lines boosting their aggressiveness and
Carlos Rodrigues, has 25 years old and is a last year PhD student at the University of Coimbra, Portugal. He has finished his graduation in Biology at the same University in 2008. Since the last year of his graduation he has been focusing his research in trying to highlight the molecular mechanisms underlying hexavalent chromium induced lung cancers and its progression to metastasis. So far he has already published 7 papers (2 original research paper, 1 review and 4 proceedings) and has 2 additional manuscripts under revision.
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