Tumors are dynamic organs that evolve during disease progression with genetic, epigenetic, and environmental differences among tumor cells serving as the foundation for selection and evolution in tumors. Tumor-initiating cells (TIC) that are responsible for tumorigenesis are a source of functional cellular heterogeneity, whereas chromosomal instability (CIN) is a source of karyotypic genetic diversity. However, the extent that CIN contributes to TIC genetic diversity and its relationship to TIC function remains unclear. Here, we demonstrate that glioblastoma TICs display CIN with lagging chromosomes at anaphase and extensive nonclonal chromosome copy-number variations. Elevating the basal chromosome missegregation rate in TICs decreases both proliferation and the stem-like phenotype of TICs in vitro. Consequently, tumor formation is abolished in an orthotopic mouse model. These results demonstrate that TICs generate genetic heterogeneity within tumors, but that TIC function is impaired if the rate of genetic change is elevated above a tolerable threshold.
Significance: Genetic heterogeneity among TICs may produce advantageous karyotypes that lead to therapy resistance and relapse; however, we found that TICs have an upper tolerable limit for CIN. Thus, increasing the chromosome missegregation rate offers a new therapeutic strategy to eliminate TICs from tumors. Cancer Discov; 6(5); 532–45. ©2016 AACR.
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Note: Supplementary data for this article are available at Cancer Discovery Online (http://cancerdiscovery.aacrjournals.org/).
- Received September 21, 2015.
- Revision received March 15, 2016.
- Accepted March 16, 2016.
- ©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.