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Identification of genes involved in breast cancer and breast cancer stem cells

Authors Apostolou P, Toloudi M, Papasotiriou I

Received 21 March 2015

Accepted for publication 14 May 2015

Published 15 July 2015 Volume 2015:7 Pages 183—191


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 5

Editor who approved publication: Professor Pranela Rameshwar

Panagiotis Apostolou, Maria Toloudi, Ioannis Papasotiriou

Research and Development Department, Research Genetic Cancer Centre Ltd, Florina, Greece

Abstract: Breast cancer is the most frequent type of cancer in women. Great progress has been made in its treatment but relapse is common. One hypothesis to account for the high recurrence rates is the presence of cancer stem cells (CSCs), which have the ability to self-renew and differentiate into multiple malignant cell types. This study aimed to determine genes that are expressed in breast cancer and breast CSCs and to investigate their correlation with stemness. RNA was extracted from established breast cancer cell lines and from CSCs derived from five different breast cancer patients. DNA microarray analysis was performed and any upregulated genes were also studied in other cancer types, including colorectal and lung cancer. For genes that were expressed only in breast cancer, knockdown-based experiments were performed. Finally, the gene expression levels of stemness transcription factors were measured. The outcome of the analysis indicated a group of genes that were aberrantly expressed mainly in breast cancer cells with stemness properties. Knockdown experiments confirmed the impact of several of these on NANOG, OCT3/4, and SOX2 transcription factors. It seems that several genes that are not directly related with hormone metabolism and basic signal transduction pathways might have an important role in relapse and disease progression and, thus, can be targeted for new treatment approaches for breast cancer.

Keywords: breast cancer, cancer stem cells, stemness, DNA microarray

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