, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 175-186,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 18 May 2012

Molecular integrity and global gene expression of breast and lung cancer stem cells under long-term storage and recovery


Cryopreservation is a common procedure widely used in biological and clinical sciences. Similar protocols are also applied in preserving cancer stem cells, a field with high promises and challenges. Specific cell surface membrane proteins are considered to be biomarkers of cancer stem cells and they may play a critical role in differentiating stem cells from non stem cells. We have looked at the possible effect of long-term cryopreservation on the molecular integrity of breast MCF7 and lung, A549 and H460, cancer stem cells and to assess if these cells are more sensitive to long-term storage process. We analyzed the expression of CD24 and CD38 as two potent biomarkers of lung cancer stem cells and EpCAM and ALDH that are used as biomarkers of a wide range of cancer stem cells. We also selected three genes essential for the normal functioning of the cells, Fos, MUC1, and HLA. Our results indicate a pattern of down-regulation in the expression of the genes following freezing, in particular among cell surface marker proteins. Global gene expression of the post-thaw breast and lung cancer stem cells also reveals a significant down-regulation in freeze-thaw cells independent from each other. Analyzing the canonical pathways between two populations reveals a significant alteration in the gene expression of the pathways involved in cell cycle, mitosis, and ataxia telangiectasia mutated pathways. Overall, our results indicate that current protocols for long-term storage of lung and breast cancer stem cells may substantially influence the activity and function of genes.