Tumour-initiating stem-like cells in human prostate cancer exhibit increased NF-κB signalling

Nat Commun. 2011 Jan 18;2:162. doi: 10.1038/ncomms1159.


Androgen depletion is a key strategy for treating human prostate cancer, but the presence of hormone-independent cells escaping treatment remains a major therapeutic challenge. Here, we identify a minor subset of stem-like human prostate tumour-initiating cells (TICs) that do not express prostate cancer markers, such as androgen receptor or prostate specific antigen. These TICs possess stem cell characteristics and multipotency as demonstrated by in vitro sphere-formation and in vivo tumour-initiation, respectively. The cells represent an undifferentiated subtype of basal cells and can be purified from prostate tumours based on coexpression of the human pluripotent stem cell marker TRA-1-60 with CD151 and CD166. Such triple-marker-positive TICs recapitulate the original parent tumour heterogeneity in serial xeno-transplantations indicating a tumour cell hierarchy in human prostate cancer development. These TICs exhibit increased nuclear factor-κB activity. These findings are important in understanding the molecular basis of human prostate cancer.