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 (TICs) that are responsible for tumorigenesis are a source of functional cellular heterogeneity while 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 chromosomal instability with lagging chromosomes at anaphase and extensive non-clonal chromosome copy number variations. Elevating the basal chromosome mis-segregation rate in TICs both decreases 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.
- Received September 21, 2015.
- Revision received March 15, 2016.
- Accepted March 16, 2016.
- Copyright ©2016, American Association for Cancer Research.