Research Papers:

HMGA1 silencing restores normal stem cell characteristics in colon cancer stem cells by increasing p53 levels

Francesca Puca, Marianna Colamaio, Antonella Federico, Marica Gemei, Nadia Tosti, André Uchimura Bastos, Luigi Del Vecchio, Salvatore Pece, Sabrina Battista and Alfredo Fusco _

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Oncotarget. 2014; 5:3234-3245. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.1914

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Francesca Puca1, Marianna Colamaio1, Antonella Federico1, Marica Gemei2, Nadia Tosti1, André Uchimura Bastos1, Luigi Del Vecchio2, Salvatore Pece3, Sabrina Battista1 and Alfredo Fusco1

1 Istituto di Endocrinologia ed Oncologia Sperimentale - CNR e/o Dipartimento di Medicina Molecolare e Biotecnologie Mediche, Università degli Studi di Napoli “Federico II”, Naples, Italy

2 CEINGE, Biotecnologie Avanzate, Naples, Italy

3 Istituto Europeo di Oncologia, Milan, Italy


Alfredo Fusco, email:

Sabrina Battista, email:

Keywords: HMGA1, cancer stem cells, p53, colon carcinoma, NUMB

Received: March 04, 2014 Accepted: April 16, 2014 Published: April 18, 2014


High-mobility group A1 (HMGA1) proteins are architectural chromatinic proteins, abundantly expressed during embryogenesis and in most cancer tissues, but expressed at low levels or absent in normal adult tissues. Several studies have demonstrated that HMGA1 proteins play a causal role in neoplastic cell transformation. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of these proteins in the control of cancer stem cells (CSCs), which have emerged as a preferred target in cancer therapy, because of their role in cancer recurrence. We observed that HMGA1 is overexpressed in colon tumour stem cell (CTSC) lines compared to normal and colon cancer tissues. We demonstrated that HMGA1 silencing in CTSCs increases stem cell quiescence and reduces self-renewal and sphere-forming efficiency (SFE). The latter, together with the upregulation and asymmetric distribution of NUMB, is indicative of the recovery of an asymmetric division pattern, typical of normal stem cells. We further found that HMGA1 transcriptionally regulates p53, which is known to control the balance between symmetric and asymmetric divisions in CSCs. Therefore, our data indicate a critical role for HMGA1 in regulating both self-renewal and the symmetric/asymmetric division ratio in CSCs, suggesting that blocking HMGA1 function may be an effective anti-cancer therapy.

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PII: 1914