Colon cancer stem cells (colon-CSCs) are more resistant to conventional chemotherapy than differentiated cancer cells. This subset of therapy refractory cells is therefore believed to play an important role in post-therapeutic tumor relapse. In order to improve the rate of sustained response to conventional chemotherapy, development of approaches is warranted that specifically sensitize colon-CSCs to treatment. Here, we report that ER-stress-induced activation of the unfolded protein response (UPR) forces colon-CSCs to differentiate, resulting in their enhanced sensitivity to chemotherapy in vitro and in vivo. Our data suggest that agents that induce activation of the UPR may be used to specifically increase sensitivity of colon-CSCs to the effects of conventional chemotherapy.
Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.