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Ionizing Radiation Induces Stemness in Cancer Cells

Authors
Journal
PLoS ONE
1932-6203
Publisher
Public Library of Science
Publication Date
Volume
7
Issue
8
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0043628
Keywords
  • Research Article
  • Biology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Stem Cells
  • Molecular Cell Biology
  • Cellular Types
  • Medicine
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Treatment
  • Radiation Therapy
  • Cancers And Neoplasms
  • Gastrointestinal Tumors
  • Hepatocellular Carcinoma
  • Basic Cancer Research
  • Radiotherapy
Disciplines
  • Medicine

Abstract

The cancer stem cell (CSC) model posits the presence of a small number of CSCs in the heterogeneous cancer cell population that are ultimately responsible for tumor initiation, as well as cancer recurrence and metastasis. CSCs have been isolated from a variety of human cancers and are able to generate a hierarchical and heterogeneous cancer cell population. CSCs are also resistant to conventional chemo- and radio-therapies. Here we report that ionizing radiation can induce stem cell-like properties in heterogeneous cancer cells. Exposure of non-stem cancer cells to ionizing radiation enhanced spherogenesis, and this was accompanied by upregulation of the pluripotency genes Sox2 and Oct3/4. Knockdown of Sox2 or Oct3/4 inhibited radiation–induced spherogenesis and increased cellular sensitivity to radiation. These data demonstrate that ionizing radiation can activate stemness pathways in heterogeneous cancer cells, resulting in the enrichment of a CSC subpopulation with higher resistance to radiotherapy.

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