Culture and Isolation of Brain Tumor Initiating Cells
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This unit describes protocols for the culture and isolation of brain tumor initiating cells (BTIC). The cancer stem cell (CSC) hypothesis suggests that tumors are maintained exclusively by a rare fraction of cells that have stem cell properties. We applied culture conditions and assays originally used for normal neural stem cells (NSCs) in vitro to a variety of brain tumors. The BTIC were isolated by fluorescence activated cell sorting for the neural precursor cell surface marker CD133. Only the CD133(+) brain tumor fraction contains cells capable of sphere formation and sustained self-renewal in vitro, and tumor initiation in NOD-SCID mouse brains. Therefore, CD133(+) BTICs satisfy the definition of cancer stem cells in that they are able to generate a replica of the patient's tumor and they exhibit self-renewal ability through serial retransplantation. This established that only a rare subset of brain tumor cells with stem cell properties are tumor-initiating, and, in this unit, we describe their culture and isolation.
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