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Title: Heterogeneity within colorectal cancer cell lines and epigenetic regulation of CD24
Author: Ayub, Mustak Ibn
ISNI:       0000 0004 7229 0238
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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Understanding the mechanisms and nature of tumour heterogeneity is a key focus of current cancer research. Tumour heterogeneity can arise from clonal evolution and/or differentiation. This thesis investigated the role of methylation in dynamic regulation of CD24 based heterogeneity in colorectal cancer cell lines. First, E-Cadherin variation between the cell lines LS174T and LS180 was investigated to find out whether E-Cadherin had any causal role in the difference in lumen formation between these two cell lines derived from the same tumour. These studies found no evidence of a causal role of E-Cadherin. However, morphological heterogeneity in LS174T was observed during the E-Cadherin study, suggesting that this cell line might be a mixture of two different clones. Single cell sorting by FACS allowed to isolate and establish these clones which were stable in the culture for long enough (until passage ~30) to allow their characterisations. Between the two clones, the CD24+ clone (named the LS174T_Clone 1CD24+) was found to have shorter doubling time (23 hours) than the CD24- clone (named the LS174T_Clone 2CD24-; 30 hours). When cultured in matrigel, the LS174T_Clone 1CD24+ showed higher clonogenicity (Chapter 4). Microarray analysis further revealed differences in gene expression including LAPTM4B, CXCR4, TGFIB and IL8 between these clones. Interestingly, when maintained for a long time in culture (around passage 50, which is equivalent to ~7 months), CD24 expression went through a gradual change in these clones, which became more evident from subclones of LS174T_Clone 2CD24- (Chapter 6) and clones from another CRC cell line SW480 (chapter 5 and 6). To understand the mechanism of this dynamic change in the expression of CD24, it was first shown that no mutation could be responsible for this phenomenon. This suggested that promoter methylation of CD24 might be the mechanism of the observed dynamic changes in CD24 expression. Bisulfite (BS) modification of DNA from the LS174T clones and CD24 differentially expressing CRC cell lines (such as CD24- cell lines: CC20, RKO vs CD24+ cell lines: DLD1, NCIH716) followed by Sanger sequencing showed that direct methylation of seven CpG positions in the CD24 promoter region Chr6:106975560-106975834 is strongly correlated with the expression of CD24. Further subcloning and sequencing revealed that changes in the methylation of only two out of the seven CpG positions might be the main contributor to the CD24 expression differences. This is the first evidence of direct methylation-mediated regulation of CD24, showing, more broadly, how methylation can contribute to and maintain dynamic heterogeneity in cancer cells. Finally, a mixed culture experiment with the CD24+ and CD24- clones was conducted to test a simple mathematical model, which aimed to explain the interaction between the clones that are stably present in the LS174T cell line (Chapter 7). Altogether, these experiments suggest that genes such as REG1A (an inducer of angiogenesis) might be expressed because of synergistic interactions between the clones, whereas CXCR4 and TFF2 might be involved in a receptor-ligand complementary relationship. These findings have set a ground for future studies to confirm such interactions between co-existing subpopulations within a heterogeneous milieu of cancer cells.
Supervisor: Bodmer, Walter Sponsor: Commonwealth Scholarship
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Molecular Oncology ; Tumour heterogeneity ; Epigenetic regulation ; Colorectal cancer ; Dynamic control ; CD24