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Metabolomic Studies of Live Single Cancer Stem Cells Using Mass Spectrometry

Sun, Mei, Yang, Zhibo
Analytical chemistry 2018 v.91 no.3 pp. 2384-2391
aldehyde dehydrogenase, biomarkers, data analysis, discriminant analysis, energy, least squares, lipids, mass spectrometry, metabolites, metabolomics, metastasis, neoplasm cells, neoplasms, relapse, stearoyl-CoA desaturase, stem cells, t-test, therapeutics, transcription factor NF-kappa B, tricarboxylic acid cycle
Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are rare types of cells responsible for tumor development, relapse, and metastasis. However, current research in CSC biology is largely limited by the difficulty of obtaining sufficient CSCs. Single-cell analysis techniques are promising tools for CSC-related studies. Here, we used the Single-probe mass spectrometry (MS) technique to investigate the metabolic features of live colorectal CSCs at the single-cell level. Experimental data were analyzed using statistical analysis methods, including the t-test and partial least squares discriminant analysis. Our results indicate that the overall metabolic profiles of CSCs are distinct from non-stem cancer cells (NSCCs). Specifically, we demonstrated that tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle metabolites are more abundant in CSCs compared to NSCCs, indicating their major energy production pathways are different. Moreover, CSCs have relatively higher levels of unsaturated lipids. Inhibiting the activities of stearoyl-CoA desaturase-1 (SCD1), nuclear factor κB (NF-κB), and aldehyde dehydrogenases (ALDH1A1) in CSCs significantly reduced the abundances of unsaturated lipids and hindered the formation of spheroids, resulting in reduced stemness of CSCs. Our techniques and experimental protocols can be potentially used for metabolomic studies of other CSCs and rare types of cells and provide a new approach to discovering functional biomarkers as therapeutic targets.