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    Melanoma-initiating cells (MICs) contribute to the tumorigenicity and heterogeneity of melanoma. MICs are identified by surface and functional markers and have been shown to display cancer stem cell (CSC) properties. However, the existence of MICs that follow the hierarchical CSC model has been questioned by studies showing that single unselected melanoma cells are highly tumorigenic in xenotransplantation assays. Herein, we characterize cells expressing MIC markers (CD20, CD24, CD133, Sca-1, ABCB1, ABCB5, ALDHhigh) in the B16-F10 murine melanoma cell line. We use flow cytometric phenotyping, single-cell sorting followed by in vitro clonogenic assays, and syngeneic in vivo serial transplantation assays to demonstrate that the expression of MIC markers does not select CSC-like cells in this cell line. Previously, our group showed that heme-degrading enzyme heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) can be upregulated in melanoma and increase its aggressiveness. Here, we show that HO-1 activity is important for non-adherent growth of melanoma and HO-1 overexpression enhances the vasculogenic mimicry potential, which can be considered protumorigenic activity. However, HO-1 overexpression decreases clone formation in vitro and serial tumor initiation in vivo. Thus, HO-1 plays a dual role in melanoma, improving the progression of growing tumors but reducing the risk of melanoma initiation.


    Anna Kusienicka, Karolina Bukowska-Strakova, Maciej Cieśla, Witold Norbert Nowak, Iwona Bronisz-Budzyńska, Agnieszka Seretny, Monika Żukowska, Mateusz Jeż, Rościsław Krutyhołowa, Hevidar Taha, Neli Kachamakova-Trojanowska, Halina Waś, Claudine Kieda, Alicja Józkowicz. Heme Oxygenase-1 Has a Greater Effect on Melanoma Stem Cell Properties Than the Expression of Melanoma-Initiating Cell Markers. International journal of molecular sciences. 2022 Mar 25;23(7)

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    PMID: 35408953

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