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Anat Cell Biol

Published online November 17, 2022


Copyright © Korean Association of ANATOMISTS.

Genetic heterogeneity of liver cancer stem cells

Minjeong Kim , Kwang-Woo Jo , Hyojin Kim , Myoung-Eun Han , Sae-Ock Oh

Department of Anatomy, School of Medicine, Pusan National University, Yangsan, Korea

Correspondence to:Sae-Ock Oh
Department of Anatomy, School of Medicine, Pusan National University, 49 Busandaehak-ro, Mulgeum-eup, Yangsan 50612, Korea
E-mail: hedgehog@pusan.ac.kr

Received: August 22, 2022; Revised: October 27, 2022; Accepted: October 27, 2022

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Cancer cell heterogeneity is a serious problem in the control of tumor progression because it can cause chemoresistance and metastasis. Heterogeneity can be generated by various mechanisms, including genetic evolution of cancer cells, cancer stem cells (CSCs), and niche heterogeneity. Because the genetic heterogeneity of CSCs has been poorly characterized, the genetic mutation status of CSCs was examined using Exome-Seq and RNA-Seq data of liver cancer. Here we show that different surface markers for liver cancer stem cells (LCSCs) showed a unique propensity for genetic mutations. Cluster of differentiation 133 (CD133)-positive cells showed frequent mutations in the IRF2, BAP1, and ERBB3 genes. However, leucine-rich repeat-containing G protein-coupled receptor 5-positive cells showed frequent mutations in the CTNNB1, RELN, and ROBO1 genes. In addition, some genetic mutations were frequently observed irrespective of the surface markers for LCSCs. BAP1 mutations was frequently observed in CD133-, CD24-, CD13-, CD90-, epithelial cell adhesion molecule-, or keratin 19-positive LCSCs. ASXL2, ERBB3, IRF2, TLX3, CPS1, and NFATC2 mutations were observed in more than three types of LCSCs, suggesting that common mechanisms for the development of these LCSCs. The present study provides genetic heterogeneity depending on the surface markers for LCSCs. The genetic heterogeneity of LCSCs should be considered in the development of LCSC-targeting therapeutics.

Keywords: Genetic heterogeneity, Cancer stem cell, Liver cancer

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