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Rachel E. Doherty, Karen Sisley, David W. Hammond, Ian G. Rennie, Neil A. Cross; Phenotypic Plasticity in Uveal Melanoma Is Not Restricted to a Tumor Subpopulation and Is Unrelated to Cancer Stem Cell Characteristics. Invest. Ophthalmol. Vis. Sci. 2017;58(12):5387-5395. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/iovs.17-22272.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Uveal melanoma (UM) is the most common primary intraocular malignancy in adults and approximately half of those diagnosed will die of metastasis. This study investigates whether UM progression is driven by a subpopulation of stem-like cells, termed “cancer stem cells” (CSCs).
Expression of postulated stem cell markers aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH), CD44, and CD133 was analyzed in UM cell lines and primary UM short-term cultures (STCs) established from tumor samples. Additionally, the notion of a “cellular hierarchy” within UM was investigated. Finally, the phenomenon of phenotypic plasticity in response to environmental factors was explored.
We demonstrate that expression of ALDH, CD44, and CD133 does not select for a subpopulation of stem-like cells in either UM cell lines or UM STCs. Furthermore, there is an absence of a cellular hierarchy in cell lines and all cells in culture are able to drive tumor progression. Last, we show that established UM cell lines and UM STCs are plastic in nature and switch their phenotype in response to environmental stimuli.
We hypothesize that this capacity to undergo phenotypic plasticity may be a consequence of neural crest lineage and renders the exploration of the CSC hypothesis extremely challenging in UM.
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