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In JoVE (1)

Other Publications (12)

Articles by Sheila K. Singh in JoVE

 JoVE Clinical and Translational Medicine

Processing of Primary Brain Tumor Tissue for Stem Cell Assays and Flow Sorting

1Stem Cell and Cancer Research Institute, McMaster University


JoVE 4111

The identification of brain tumor initiating cells (BTICs), the rare cells within a heterogeneous tumor possessing stem cell properties, provides new insights into human brain tumor pathogenesis. We have refined specific culture conditions to enrich for BTICs, and we routinely use flow cytometry to further enrich these populations. Self-renewal assays and transcript analysis by single cell RT-PCR can subsequently be performed on these isolated cells.

Other articles by Sheila K. Singh on PubMed

Occipitocervical Reconstruction with the Ohio Medical Instruments Loop: Results of a Multicenter Evaluation in 30 Cases

Stabilization of the craniocervical junction (CCJ) remains a significant challenge. In this multicenter study, the authors present the results of an evaluation of a precontoured titanium implant, the Ohio Medical Instruments (OMI) Loop, for craniocervical fixation.

Identification of a Cancer Stem Cell in Human Brain Tumors

Most current research on human brain tumors is focused on the molecular and cellular analysis of the bulk tumor mass. However, there is overwhelming evidence in some malignancies that the tumor clone is heterogeneous with respect to proliferation and differentiation. In human leukemia, the tumor clone is organized as a hierarchy that originates from rare leukemic stem cells that possess extensive proliferative and self-renewal potential, and are responsible for maintaining the tumor clone. We report here the identification and purification of a cancer stem cell from human brain tumors of different phenotypes that possesses a marked capacity for proliferation, self-renewal, and differentiation. The increased self-renewal capacity of the brain tumor stem cell (BTSC) was highest from the most aggressive clinical samples of medulloblastoma compared with low-grade gliomas. The BTSC was exclusively isolated with the cell fraction expressing the neural stem cell surface marker CD133. These CD133+ cells could differentiate in culture into tumor cells that phenotypically resembled the tumor from the patient. The identification of a BTSC provides a powerful tool to investigate the tumorigenic process in the central nervous system and to develop therapies targeted to the BTSC.

Cancer Stem Cells in Nervous System Tumors

Most current research on human brain tumors is focused on the molecular and cellular analysis of the bulk tumor mass. However, evidence in leukemia and more recently in solid tumors such as breast cancer suggests that the tumor cell population is heterogeneous with respect to proliferation and differentiation. Recently, several groups have described the existence of a cancer stem cell population in human brain tumors of different phenotypes from both children and adults. The finding of brain tumor stem cells (BTSCs) has been made by applying the principles for cell culture and analysis of normal neural stem cells (NSCs) to brain tumor cell populations and by identification of cell surface markers that allow for isolation of distinct tumor cell populations that can then be studied in vitro and in vivo. A population of brain tumor cells can be enriched for BTSCs by cell sorting of dissociated suspensions of tumor cells for the NSC marker CD133. These CD133+ cells, which also expressed the NSC marker nestin, but not differentiated neural lineage markers, represent a minority fraction of the entire brain tumor cell population, and exclusively generate clonal tumor spheres in suspension culture and exhibit increased self-renewal capacity. BTSCs can be induced to differentiate in vitro into tumor cells that phenotypically resembled the tumor from the patient. Here, we discuss the evidence for and implications of the discovery of a cancer stem cell in human brain tumors. The identification of a BTSC provides a powerful tool to investigate the tumorigenic process in the central nervous system and to develop therapies targeted to the BTSC. Specific genetic and molecular analyses of the BTSC will further our understanding of the mechanisms of brain tumor growth, reinforcing parallels between normal neurogenesis and brain tumorigenesis.

Identification of Human Brain Tumour Initiating Cells

The cancer stem cell (CSC) hypothesis suggests that neoplastic clones are maintained exclusively by a rare fraction of cells with stem cell properties. Although the existence of CSCs in human leukaemia is established, little evidence exists for CSCs in solid tumours, except for breast cancer. Recently, we prospectively isolated a CD133+ cell subpopulation from human brain tumours that exhibited stem cell properties in vitro. However, the true measures of CSCs are their capacity for self renewal and exact recapitulation of the original tumour. Here we report the development of a xenograft assay that identified human brain tumour initiating cells that initiate tumours in vivo. Only the CD133+ brain tumour fraction contains cells that are capable of tumour initiation in NOD-SCID (non-obese diabetic, severe combined immunodeficient) mouse brains. Injection of as few as 100 CD133+ cells produced a tumour that could be serially transplanted and was a phenocopy of the patient's original tumour, whereas injection of 10(5) CD133- cells engrafted but did not cause a tumour. Thus, the identification of brain tumour initiating cells provides insights into human brain tumour pathogenesis, giving strong support for the CSC hypothesis as the basis for many solid tumours, and establishes a previously unidentified cellular target for more effective cancer therapies.

Culture and Isolation of Brain Tumor Initiating Cells

This unit describes protocols for the culture and isolation of brain tumor initiating cells (BTIC). The cancer stem cell (CSC) hypothesis suggests that tumors are maintained exclusively by a rare fraction of cells that have stem cell properties. We applied culture conditions and assays originally used for normal neural stem cells (NSCs) in vitro to a variety of brain tumors. The BTIC were isolated by fluorescence activated cell sorting for the neural precursor cell surface marker CD133. Only the CD133(+) brain tumor fraction contains cells capable of sphere formation and sustained self-renewal in vitro, and tumor initiation in NOD-SCID mouse brains. Therefore, CD133(+) BTICs satisfy the definition of cancer stem cells in that they are able to generate a replica of the patient's tumor and they exhibit self-renewal ability through serial retransplantation. This established that only a rare subset of brain tumor cells with stem cell properties are tumor-initiating, and, in this unit, we describe their culture and isolation.

YB-1 Bridges Neural Stem Cells and Brain Tumor-initiating Cells Via Its Roles in Differentiation and Cell Growth

The Y-box binding protein 1 (YB-1) is upregulated in many human malignancies including glioblastoma (GBM). It is also essential for normal brain development, suggesting that YB-1 is part of a neural stem cell (NSC) network. Here, we show that YB-1 was highly expressed in the subventricular zone (SVZ) of mouse fetal brain tissues but not in terminally differentiated primary astrocytes. Conversely, YB-1 knockout mice had reduced Sox-2, nestin, and musashi-1 expression in the SVZ. Although primary murine neurospheres were rich in YB-1, its expression was lost during glial differentiation. Glial tumors often express NSC markers and tend to loose the cellular control that governs differentiation; therefore, we addressed whether YB-1 served a similar role in cancer cells. YB-1, Sox-2, musashi-1, Bmi-1, and nestin are coordinately expressed in SF188 cells and 9/9 GBM patient-derived primary brain tumor-initiating cells (BTIC). Silencing YB-1 with siRNA attenuated the expression of these NSC markers, reduced neurosphere growth, and triggered differentiation via coordinate loss of GSK3-β. Furthermore, differentiation of BTIC with 1% serum or bone morphogenetic protein-4 suppressed YB-1 protein expression. Likewise, YB-1 expression was lost during differentiation of normal human NSCs. Consistent with these observations, YB-1 expression increased with tumor grade (n = 49 cases). YB-1 was also coexpressed with Bmi-1 (Spearmans 0.80, P > 0.001) and Sox-2 (Spearmans 0.66, P > 0.001) based on the analysis of 282 cases of high-grade gliomas. These proteins were highly expressed in 10/15 (67%) of GBM patients that subsequently relapsed. In conclusion, YB-1 correlatively expresses with NSC markers where it functions to promote cell growth and inhibit differentiation.

Endoscopic Transnasal Drainage of Frontal Epidural Abscesses

Although rare, sinogenic intracranial epidural frontal abscesses remain a serious and potentially life-threatening complication of sinusitis. Traditional therapy involves a combination of intravenous antibiotics, sinus surgery, and neurosurgical drainage through an external approach.

Bmi1 Marks Intermediate Precursors During Differentiation of Human Brain Tumor Initiating Cells

The master regulatory gene Bmi1 modulates key stem cell properties in neural precursor cells (NPCs), and has been implicated in brain tumorigenesis. We previously identified a population of CD133+ brain tumor cells possessing stem cell properties, known as brain tumor initiating cells (BTICs). Here, we characterize the expression and role of Bmi1 in primary minimally cultured human glioblastoma (GBM) patient isolates in CD133+ and CD133- sorted populations. We find that Bmi1 expression is increased in CD133- cells, and Bmi1 protein and transcript expression are highest during intermediate stages of differentiation as CD133+ BTICs lose their CD133 expression. Furthermore, in vitro stem cell assays and Bmi1 knockdown show that Bmi1 contributes to self-renewal in CD133+ populations, but regulates proliferation and cell fate determination in CD133- populations. Finally, we test if our in vitro stem cell assays and Bmi1 expression in BTIC patient isolates are predictive of clinical outcome for GBM patients. Bmi1 expression profiles show a marked elevation in the proneural GBM subtype, and stem cell frequency as assessed by tumor sphere assays correlates with patient outcome.

Polo-Like Kinase 1 (PLK1) Inhibition Kills Glioblastoma Multiforme Brain Tumour Cells in Part Through Loss of SOX2 and Delays Tumour Progression in Mice

Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) ranks amongst the deadliest types of cancer and given this new therapies are urgently needed. To identify molecular targets, we queried a microarray profiling 467 human GBMs and discovered that polo-like kinase 1 (PLK1) was highly expressed in these tumours and that it clustered with the proliferative subtype. Patients with PLK1-high tumours were more likely to die from their disease suggesting that current therapies are inactive against such tumours. This prompted us to examine its expression in brain tumour initiating cells (BTICs) given their association with treatment failure. BTICs isolated from patients expressed 110-470 times more PLK1 than normal human astrocytes. Moreover, BTICs rely on PLK1 for survival because the PLK1 inhibitor BI2536 inhibited their growth in tumoursphere cultures. PLK1 inhibition suppressed growth, caused G(2) /M arrest, induced apoptosis and reduced the expression of SOX2, a marker of neural stem cells, in SF188 cells. Consistent with SOX2 inhibition, the loss of PLK1 activity caused the cells to differentiate based on elevated levels of GFAP and changes in cellular morphology. We then knocked-down SOX2 with siRNA and showed that it too inhibited cell growth and induced cell death. Likewise, in U251 cells, PLK1 inhibition suppressed cell growth, down-regulated SOX2 and induced cell death. Furthermore, BI2536 delayed tumour growth of U251 cells in an orthotopic brain tumour model, demonstrating that the drug is active against GBM. In conclusion, PLK1 level is elevated in GBM and its inhibition restricts the growth of brain cancer cells.

Medulloblastoma Stem Cells: Where Development and Cancer Cross Pathways

Brain tumors are the leading cause of childhood cancer mortality, with medulloblastoma (MB) representing the most frequent malignant tumor. The recent molecular classification of MB has reconceptualized the heterogeneity that exists within pathological subtypes by giving context to the role of key developmental signaling pathways in MB pathogenesis. The identification of cancer stem cell (CSC) populations, termed brain tumor-initiating cells (BTICs), in MB has provided novel cellular targets for the study of these aberrantly activated signaling pathways, namely, Sonic hedgehog (Shh) and Wingless (Wnt), along with the identification of novel BTIC self-renewal pathways. In this review, we discuss recent evidence for the presence of a MB stem cell that drives tumorigenesis in this malignant childhood tumor. We focus on evidence from cerebellar development, the recent identification of BTICs, the presence of activated developmental signaling pathways in MB, the role of epigenetic stem cell regulatory mechanisms, and how these developmental and epigenetic pathways may be targeted for novel therapeutic options.

GBM Secretome Induces Transient Transformation of Human Neural Precursor Cells

Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most aggressive primary brain tumor in humans, with a uniformly poor prognosis. The tumor microenvironment is composed of both supportive cellular substrates and exogenous factors. We hypothesize that exogenous factors secreted by brain tumor initiating cells (BTICs) could predispose normal neural precursor cells (NPCs) to transformation. When NPCs are grown in GBM-conditioned media, and designated as "tumor-conditioned NPCs" (tcNPCs), they become highly proliferative and exhibit increased stem cell self-renewal, or the unique ability of stem cells to asymmetrically generate another stem cell and a daughter cell. tcNPCs also show an increased transcript level of stem cell markers such as CD133 and ALDH and growth factor receptors such as VEGFR1, VEGFR2, EGFR and PDGFRα. Media analysis by ELISA of GBM-conditioned media reveals an elevated secretion of growth factors such as EGF, VEGF and PDGF-AA when compared to normal neural stem cell-conditioned media. We also demonstrate that tcNPCs require prolonged or continuous exposure to the GBM secretome in vitro to retain GBM BTIC characteristics. Our in vivo studies reveal that tcNPCs are unable to form tumors, confirming that irreversible transformation events may require sustained or prolonged presence of the GBM secretome. Analysis of GBM-conditioned media by mass spectrometry reveals the presence of secreted proteins Chitinase-3-like 1 (CHI3L1) and H2A histone family member H2AX. Collectively, our data suggest that GBM-secreted factors are capable of transiently altering normal NPCs, although for retention of the transformed phenotype, sustained or prolonged secretome exposure or additional transformation events are likely necessary.

Medulloblastoma Stem Cells: Modeling Tumor Heterogeneity

Brain tumors represent the leading cause of childhood cancer mortality, with medulloblastoma (MB) being the most frequent malignant tumor. In this review we discuss the morphological and molecular heterogeneity of this malignant childhood brain tumor and how this key feature has implicated the presence of a MB stem cell. We focus on evidence from cerebellar development, histopathological and molecular subtypes of MB, the recent identification of brain tumor-initiating cells (BTICs, also referred to as MB stem cells), and the current limitations in studying the interplay between MB stem cells and tumor heterogeneity.

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