Research Papers:

Knock out CD44 in reprogrammed liver cancer cell C3A increases CSCs stemness and promotes differentiation

Shuo Han, Jinhai Guo, Yinan Liu, Zhi Zhang, Qihua He, Peng Li, Mingzhi Zhang, Haojie Sun, Ruizhi Li, Yang Li, Wotan Zeng, Jinwen Liu, Lejian Lian, Yi Gao and Li Shen _

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:44452-44465. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.6090

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Shuo Han1, Jinhai Guo2, Yinan Liu1, Zhi Zhang3, Qihua He1, Peng Li1, Mingzhi Zhang1, Haojie Sun1, Ruizhi Li1, Yang Li3, Wotan Zeng2, Jinwen Liu2, Lejian Lian2, Yi Gao3, Li Shen1

1Department of Cell Biology, Stem Cell Research Center, Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Peking University Health Science Center, Beijing, People's Republic of China

2Beijing DongFang YaMei Gene Science and Technology Research Institute, Beijing, People's Republic of China

3State Key Laboratory of Organ Failure Research, Co-Innovation Center for Organ Failure Research, Guangdong Provincial Research Center of Artificial Organ and Tissue Engineering, Second Department of Hepatobiliary Surgery, ZhuJiang Hospital, Southern Medical University, Guangzhou, People's Republic of China

Correspondence to:

Li Shen, e-mail: [email protected]

Yi Gao, e-mail: [email protected]

Keywords: induced liver cancer stem cells, CD44, transcriptional regulation, CRISPR/Cas9, C3A

Received: July 30, 2015     Accepted: October 09, 2015     Published: October 22, 2015


CD44 is a widely known cancer stem cells marker in various cancers and validated to function in tumor growth, survival and tumor metastasis. In this study, we first established C3A-derived liver cancer stem cells by OSKM method [OCT4, SOX2, KLF4, and c-MYC], termed C3A-induced cancer stem cells (C3A-iCSCs) which acquired self-renewal and stemness abilities. Then we found CD44 was positive in C3A-iCSCs and mainly located in cell nuclear. Chromatin immunoprecipitation-quantitative PCR (ChIP-qPCR) results showed nuclear CD44 combined promoter regions of c-MYC and SOX2. These results suggested that CD44 participated in C3A-iCSCs transcriptional regulation. To explore CD44 overall influence in liver cancer stem cells, CD44 was knocked out in C3A-iCSCs using CRISPR/Cas9 technology. Our results showed a dramatic increase in the expression of stem cell markers OCT4, SOX2 and NANOG in CD44 C3A-iCSCs compared with that in CD44+ C3A-iCSCs. Tumor derived from CD44 C3A-iCSCs also displayed well-differentiated tumor cells compared to CD44+ C3A-iCSCs, which suggested CD44 C3A-iCSCs derived tumor cells exhibited lower malignant degree. Our data indicated nuclear CD44 in liver cancer stem cells is responsible for the poorly differentiated highly malignant tumor cells by maintenance of low stemness state.

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