Research Papers:

Clonogenic multiple myeloma cells have shared stemness signature associated with patient survival

Renji Reghunathan, Chonglei Bi, Shaw Cheng Liu, Koh Tze Loong, Tae-Hoon Chung, Gaofeng Huang and Wee Joo Chng _

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Oncotarget. 2013; 4:1230-1240. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.1145

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Renji Reghunathan1, Chonglei Bi2, Shaw Cheng Liu3, Koh Tze Loong4, Tae-Hoon Chung2, Gaofeng Huang2 and Wee Joo Chng1,2,4

1 Department of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore

2 Cancer Science Institute, National University of Singapore, Singapore

3 SIRTex, 50 Science Park Road, Singapore Science Park II, Singapore

4 Department of Haematology-Oncology, National University Hospital, National University Health System, Singapore.


Wee Joo Chng, email:

Keywords: myeloma, plasma cells, proliferation, differentiation, stemness

Received: June 30, 2013 Accepted: July 13, 2013 Published: July 15, 2013


Multiple myeloma is the abnormal clonal expansion of post germinal B cells in the bone marrow. It was previously reported that clonogenic myeloma cells are CD138-. Human MM cell lines RPMI8226 and NCI H929 contained 2-5% of CD138- population. In this study, we showed that CD138- cells have increased ALDH1 activity, a hallmark of normal and neoplastic stem cells. CD138-ALDH+ cells were more clonogenic than CD138+ALDH- cells and only CD138- cells differentiated into CD138+ populations. In vivo tumor initiation and clonogenic potentials of the CD138- population was confirmed using NOG mice. We derived a gene expression signature from functionally validated and enriched CD138- clonogenic population from MM cell lines and validated these in patient samples. This data showed that CD138- cells had an enriched expression of genes that are expressed in normal and malignant stem cells. Differentially expressed genes included components of the polycomb repressor complex (PRC) and their targets. Inhibition of PRC by DZNep showed differential effect on CD138- and CD138+ populations. The ‘stemness’ signature derived from clonogenic CD138- cells overlap significantly with signatures of common progenitor cells, hematopoietic stem cells, and Leukemic stem cells and is associated with poorer survival in different clinical datasets.

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