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    Identification of a specific biomarker for cancer stem cells (CSCs) is of potential applications in the development of effective therapeutic strategies for renal cell carcinoma (RCC). In this study, both the RCC cell line 786-O and surgically removed clear cell RCC (ccRCC) tissues were implemented to grew as spheroids in serum-free medium supplemented with mitogens. This subpopulation possessed key characteristics defining CSCs. We also identified that surgically removed ccRCC tissues were heterogenic and there was a subpopulation of cells that was highly stained with rhodamine-123. Based on membrane-proteomic analyses, CD73 was identified as a candidate biomarker. We further found that CD73high cells were highly tumorigenic. As few as 100 CD73high cells were capable of forming xenograft tumors in non obese diabetic/severe combined immunodeficiency disease mice, whereas 1 × 105 CD73low cells did not initiate tumor formation. During successive culture, the CD73high population regenerated both CD73high and CD73low cells, whereas the CD73low population remained low expression level of CD73. Furthermore, the CD73high cells were more resistant to radiation and DNA-damaging agents than the CD73low cells, and expressed a panel of 'stemness' genes at a higher level than the CD73low cells. These findings suggest that a high level of CD73 expression is a bona fide biomarker of ccRCC stem-like cells. Future research will aim at the elucidation of the underlying mechanisms of CD73 in RCC development and the distinct aspects of ccRCC stem-like cells from other tumor types.


    Lei Song, Wenling Ye, Yong Cui, Jianzhong Lu, Yanan Zhang, Nan Ding, Wentao Hu, Hailong Pei, Zhongjin Yue, Guangming Zhou. Ecto-5'-nucleotidase (CD73) is a biomarker for clear cell renal carcinoma stem-like cells. Oncotarget. 2017 May 09;8(19):31977-31992

    PMID: 28404888

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