Author(s): Gibbs CP, Kukekov VG, Reith JD, Tchigrinova O, Suslov ON,
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Abstract Bone sarcomas are a clinically and molecularly heterogeneous group of malignancies characterized by varying degrees of mesenchymal differentiation. Despite advances in medical and surgical management, survival rates for high-grade tumors have remained static at 50\% to 70\%. Tumor stem cells have been recently implicated in the pathogenesis of other heterogeneous, highly malignant tumors. We demonstrate here the existence of a small subpopulation of self-renewing bone sarcoma cells that are capable of forming suspended spherical, clonal colonies, also called "sarcospheres," in anchorage-independent, serum-starved conditions. These bone sarcoma cells as well as tissue specimens express activated STAT3 and the marker genes of pluripotent embryonic stem (ES) cells, Oct 3/4 and Nanog. Expression levels of Oct 3/4 and Nanog are greater in sarcospheres than in adherent cultures. A subset of bone sarcoma cells displays several surface markers of mesenchymal stem cells (Stro-1, CD105, and CD44) as well as attributes of mesodermal, ectodermal, and endodermal differentiation. Although previously documented in brain and breast tumors, our results support the extension of the cancer stem cell hypothesis to include tumors of mesenchymal lineage. Furthermore, they suggest the participation of ES cell homeobox proteins in non-germ cell tumorigenesis.
This article was published in Neoplasia
and referenced in Journal of Cytology & Histology