Analysis of Side Population in Solid Tumor Cell Lines

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Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are an important cause of tumor growth, metastasis, and recurrence. Isolation and identification of CSCs are of great significance for tumor research. Currently, several techniques are used for the identification and purification of CSCs from tumor tissues and tumor cell lines. Separation and analysis of side population (SP) cells are two of the commonly used methods. The methods rely on the ability of CSCs to rapidly expel fluorescent dyes, such as Hoechst 33342. The efflux of the dye is associated with the ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters and can be inhibited by ABC transporter inhibitors. Methods for staining cultured tumor cells with Hoechst 33342 and analyzing the proportion of their SP cells by flow cytometry are described. This assay is convenient, fast, and cost-effective. Data generated in this assay can contribute to a better understanding of the effect of genes or other extracellular and intracellular signals on the stemness properties of tumor cells.