Int. J. Dev. Biol. 55: 791 - 799 (2011)
doi: 10.1387/ijdb.113363mf
© UPV/EHU Press

Canine mammary tumors contain cancer stem-like cells and form spheroids with an embryonic stem cell signature

Maria Ferletta1, Jan Grawé1 and Eva Hellmén*,1,2

1Uppsala University, Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology and 2Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry, Uppsala, Sweden

ABSTRACT We have investigated the presence of tentative stem-like cells in the canine mammary tumor cell line CMT-U229. This cell line is established from an atypical benign mixed mammary tumor, which has the property of forming duct-like structures in collagen gels. Stem cells in mammary glands are located in the epithelium; therefore we thought that the CMT-U229 cell line would be suitable for detection of tentative cancer stem-like cells. Side population (SP) analyses by flow cytometry were performed with cells that formed spheroids and with cells that did not. Flow cytometric, single sorted cells were expanded and re-cultured as spheroids. The spheroids were paraffin embedded and characterized by immunohistochemistry. SP analyses showed that spheroid forming cells (retenate) as well as single cells (filtrate) contained SP cells. Sca1 positive cells were single cell sorted and thereafter the SP population increased with repeated SP analyses. The SP cells were positively labeled with the cell surface-markers CD44 and CD49f (integrin alpha6); however the expression of CD24 was low or negative. The spheroids expressed the transcription factor and stem cell marker Sox2, as well as Oct4. Interestingly, only peripheral cells of the spheroids and single cells were positive for Oct4 expression. SP cells are suggested to correspond to stem cells and in this study, we have enriched for tentative tumor stem-like cells derived from a canine mammary tumor. All the used markers indicate that the studied CMT-U229 cell line contains SP cells, which in particular have cancer stem-like cell characteristics.


canine mammary tumor, stem-like, SP

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