CD133+ populations of human glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) cells are reportedly enriched for tumor stem cells (TSCs) or tumor-initiating cells (TICs). Approximately 40% of freshly isolated GBM specimens, however, do not contain CD133+ tumor cells, raising the possibility that CD133 may not be a universal enrichment marker for GBM TSCs/TICs. Here we demonstrate that stage-specific embryonic antigen 1(SSEA-1/LeX)+ GBM cells fulfill the functional criteria for TSC/TIC, since (1) SSEA-1+ cells are highly tumorigenic in vivo, unlike SSEA-1- cells; (2) SSEA-1+ cells can give rise to both SSEA-1+ and SSEA-1- cells, thereby establishing a cellular hierarchy; and (3) SSEA-1+ cells have self-renewal and multilineage differentiation potentials. A distinct subpopulation of SSEA-1+ cells was present in all but one of the primary GBMs examined (n = 24), and most CD133+ tumor cells were also SSEA-1+, suggesting that SSEA-1 may be a general TSC/TIC enrichment marker in human GBMs. © 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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