Principles of stem cell biology and cancer: future applications and therapeutics. Edited by T. Regad, T. J. Sayers and R. C. Rees. John Wiley & Sons (2015)

Part II. Cancer stem cells

CD133 (known in rodents as prominin-1, Prom1) is a 120 kDa transmembrane cell-surface protein, which it has been suggested is expressed exclusively on CRCSCs from several malignancies (Irollo and Pirozzi, 2013). Indeed, CD133 has been used as a surface marker for the identification and isolation of tumour-initiating (CD133+ ) cells from CRCs. Furthermore, CD133 has been suggested to characterize normal stem cells and cancer stem cells (CSCs) in human tissues, including colonic mucosa. CD133+ cells have been shown to have self-maintaining properties and can differentiate and re-establish tumour heterogeneity upon serial transplantation in vivo. The molecular mechanisms and signalling pathways that control CD133 expression remain largely uncharacterized, and the molecular function of CD133 in stem cell biology remains unclear. The use of CD133 as a biomarker remains controversial with respect to both ISCs and CRCSCs. Studies of CD133 using transgenic mice have produced differing results with respect to CD133 as a selective ISC marker in the mouse colon and intestine (Snippert et al., 2009; Zhu et al., 2009). CD133 expression has been observed in both ISCs and TACs in the small intestine. Other studies have found an increasingly widespread expression of CD133 throughout the colonic mucosa. Thus, it seems unlikely that CD133 is a selective ISC marker; rather, it may harbour a broad expression, which might also include progenitor cells, at least in the mouse gut.

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