Induction of Cancerous Stem Cells during Embryonic Stem Cell Differentiation
Stem-cell maintenance depends on their surrounding microenvironment, and aberrancies in the environment have been associated with tumorigenesis. However, it remains to be elucidated whether an environmental aberrancy can act as a carcinogenic stress for cellular transformation of differentiating stem cells into cancer stem cells. Here, utilizing mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs) as a model, it was illustrated that environmental aberrancy during differentiation leads to the emergence of pluripotent cells showing cancerous characteristics. Analogous to pre-cancerous stages, DNA lesions were spontaneously accumulated during ESC-differentiation under aberrational environments, which activates barrier responses such as senescence and apoptosis. However, overwhelming such barrier responses, piled-up spheres were subsequently induced from the previously senescent cells. The sphere cells exhibit aneuploidy and dysfunction of the Arf-p53 module as well as enhanced tumorigenicity and a strong self-renewal capacity, suggesting development of cancerous stem-cells. Our current study suggests that stem cells differentiating in an aberrational environment are at risk of cellular transformation into malignant counterparts.