The human EOC SKOV-3 cell line was from an ovarian cancer patient of origin, which was a well-established ovarian cancer model system. The cell line was purchased from the Cellular Institute in Shanghai, China, and was maintained in complete media consisting of RPMI 1640, 2 mM L-glutamine, 100 U/ml penicillin, 100 μg/ml streptomycin, and 10% fetal bovine serum. The complete media were refreshed every 3 days to maintain the adherent cells.
Isolation of CD44+CD117+CSCs, transduction of lentivirus miR-200c and production of stable expression colonies
The CD44+CD117+CSCs were isolated from the SKOV3 cell line by using the magnetic- associated cell sorting (MACS) method as described previously [16, 17]. Briefly, the CD44+subsets were isolated by using the mouse antihuman CD44 antibody coupled to magnetic microbeads (Miltenyi Biotec., Germany); the resulting cells were then depleted of CD117−subsets by using the mouse antihuman CD117 antibody coupled to magnetic microbeads (Miltenyi Biotec., Germany). The resulting CD44+CD117+cells were labeled ‘EOC CD44+CD117+CSCs’ . These cells were further identified by using a flow cytometer (FCM, Beckman Coulter, USA) according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The anti-Human/ Mouse CD44 FITC and the anti-Human CD117 PE (eBioscience, USA) antibodies were used for the detection of the cells .
To generate the miR-200c expression lentivirus vector, we amplified an insert (full-length human miR-200c) by PCR from SKOV3 DNA. The lentivirus miR-200c was produced from the transient transfection of the HEK293T cells with pHAGE-CMV- miR-200c-IZsGreen, psPAX2, and pMD2.G plasmid DNAs plus Lipofectamine 2000 (Invitrogen, USA) according to the manufacturer's protocol. Forty-eight hours after the co-transfection, the lentivirus-bearing supernatants were collected and passed through a 0.45-mm filter. The CD44+CD117+CSCs were transduced with the pHAGE-CMV- miR-200c-IzsGreen lentivirus, and were selected by the IzsGreen expression [7, 19]. The stable expression colony was generated by limiting the dilution assay .
RNA isolation and quantitative RT-PCR
Total cellular RNA was isolated from a sample by using a Qiagen RNeasy Kit (Qiagen, CA). The sequences of the primers are as follows: the miR-200c-RT primer 5′-CTCAAC TGGTGTGGAGCGCATTCAGTTGAGTCCATCAT-3; the ZEB1 forward, 5′-GCACAAC CAAGGCAGAAGA-3′; reverse, 5′-CATTTGCAGTTGAGGCTGA-3′; the β-actin forward, 5′-GGACTTCGAGCAAGAGATGG-3′; reverse, 5′-AGCACTGTGTTGGCGTACAG-3′; U6: RT Primer, 5′-GTCGTATCCAGTGCAGGGTCCGAGGTATTCGCACTGGATACGA CAAATATGGAAC-3′;forward, 5′-TGCGGGTGCTCGCTTCGGCAGC-3′; URP Universal Reverse Primer, 5′-CCGGCAGGGTCCGAGGT-3′. The E-cadherin forward: CATTGCC ACACATACACTCTCTTCT, reverse: CGGTTACCGTGATCAAAATCTC; the Vimentin forward: GGAACAGCATGTCCAAATCG, reverse: GCACCTGTCTCCGGTACTCA. The qRT-PCR analysis was performed on an ABI step one plus real-time system (Applied Biosystems, USA) .
Short hairpin RNA sequence design and recombinant construction of shRNA1 targeting to ZEB1 gene
A short hairpin RNA sequence of the human ZEB1 was designed according to the ZEB1 DNA sequence (GenBank NO.NM_001128128.2)by the siDESIGN design software of Dharmacon Company. The shRNA sequences were as follows: The ZEB1-siRNA: forward, 5′- GATCCCCAG GAAGAGGAGGAGGATAATTCAAGAGATTATCCTCCTC CTCTTCCTTTTTTGGA AA-3′; reverse, 5′-AGCTTTTCCAAAAAAGGAAGAGGAGG AGGATAATCTCTTGAATTATCCTCCTCCTCTTCCTGGG-3′; the scramble-siRNA: forward, 5′-GATCCCCTTCT CCGAACGTGTCACGTTTCAAGAGAACG TGACACGT TC GGAGAATTTTTGGAAA −3′; reverse, 5′-AGCTTTCCAAAAATTCTCCGAACGTG TCACGTTCTCTTGAAACGTGACACGTTGGAGAAGGG-3′. All the primers were synthesized by Company of Gene and Technology of China in Shanghai. A pSUPER- EGFP1 (enhancement green fluorescent protein 1) vector was used to construct recombinants. The recombinant pSUPER-EGFP1- ZEB1-shRNA (shZEB1) was developed using the method described in a according to previous reports [1, 13]. A pSUPER- EGFP1-scrambled shRNA (scramble) was used for negative control. These recombinants were transfected by using the Lipofectamine™ 2000 reagent (Invitrogen, USA) per the manufacturer’s protocol .
Colony forming assay
The colony formation capabilities of the different CD44+CD117+CSCs were investigated. Colonies larger than 75 μm in diameter or containing more than 50 cells were counted as 1 positive colony according to our previous reports [20, 21]. About 500 cells per well were added into a six-well culture plate, with three wells per sample. After12-day incubation, the cells were washed twice with PBS and stained with the Giemsa solution. The plate clone formation efficiency was calculated as (number of colony /number of cells inoculated) × 100%.
The cells from the above-mentioned colonies were grown to confluence and were wounded by dragging a 1-mL pipette tip across their monolayer. The cells were washed to remove any cellular debris and were then allowed to migrate for 0, 24, and 48 hours, respectively, in a humidified 5% CO2 incubator at 37°C. Images were taken, using a DMI6000 inverted microscope (Leica Microsystems GmbH, Germany), at 0, 24, and 48 hours, respectively, after the wounding procedure [22, 23].
Matrigel invasion assay
The Matrigel invasion assay was done using the BD Biocoat Matrigel Invasion Chamber (pore size: 8 mm, 24-well; BD Biosciences, USA) following the manufacturer's protocol [17, 24]. From five randomly selected fields, the cells that had invaded through the membrane to the lower surface were counted under a light microscope.
Xenograft tumor model
Thirty-six five-to six-week-old female Balb/c athymic nu/nu mice were ordered from the Animal Center of Yang Zhou University of China and were raised at the Experimental Animal Center, Southeast University. All the animal experiments were performed in compliance with the guidelines of the Animal Research Ethics Board of Southeast University. The 36 mice were randomly divided into six groups of equal size (6) as follows: group 1 for CD44+CD117+CSCs with lentivirus miR-200c; group 2 for CD44+CD117+CSCs with lentivirus mock; group 3 for CD44+CD117+CSCs without lentivirus infection; group 4 for CD44+CD117+CSCs transfected with the shZEB1; group 5 for CD44+CD117+CSCs transfected with the scrambled control siRNA; group 6 for CD44+CD117+CSCs without transfection. Each mouse was subcutaneously (s.c.) injected in the back with 5 × 104 cells for the group it was in. Tumor formations in the mice were monitored every three days. Evaluation was also done of the tumor volume, tumor-free mice, and survival rates, respectively. A mouse was sacrificed when any of its tumors was over 1.4 cm in the largest diameter. The necropsy was performed on each animal for further analysis of the primary tumor along with possible metastases [18, 25].
Western blot analysis
Total cell lysates were prepared and analyzed by using the Western blot method as described before [26, 27]. Briefly, 1 × 106 CD44+CD117+CSCs were collected and lyzed in a protein extraction buffer according to the manufacturer’ s protocol. The PVDF membrane was blocked with 4% dry milk in the Tris-buffered saline with Tween-20 for 1 h at 20°C, and was incubated with the rabbit antibody specific to human ZEB1 (Santa cruz Biotechnology, CA, USA ) or with E-cadherin or with Vimentin (Bioworld Technology, USA) for overnight at 4°C. The membrane was then incubated with the anti-rabbit fluorescence secondary antibody for 1 h at 20°C. Immunoreactive bands were detected by the Odyssey scanning instrument (LICOR Odyssey, USA ).
4 μm-thin formalin fixed and paraffin-embedded slides were incubated with the rabbit antibody specific to human E-cadherin overnight at 4°C. The samples were then labeled with HRP-conjugated streptavidin (Invitrogen) and the chromogenic reaction that was developed using Liquid DAB Substrate Pack according to the manufacturer's instructions. E-cadherin-stained cells from random and non-overlapping fields were counted under a magnification of × 200 .
The lung tissues were removed from the mice and fixed in 10% formalin, and then embedded in paraffin. Tissue sections of 4 μm thin were cut and mounted on SuperFrost Plus glass slides, fixed in methanol, and stained in hematoxylin and eosin (HE) [29, 30].
Statistical comparisons of the results between groups were performed using the Student’s t-test method. P < 0.05 was considered significant statistically.