Feline oral squamous cell carcinoma is considered a highly invasive cancer that carries a high level of morbidity. Despite aggressive surgery, patients often succumb to disease, the tumour having inherent insensitivity to radiation and chemotherapy. In this study we sought to identify cells within the feline SCC1 line that have stem cell properties, including inherent resistance mechanisms. When feline cells were subjected to harsh growth conditions, they formed sphere colonies consistent with a stem cell phenotype. Utilising CD133, we were able to identify a small fraction of cells within the population that had enhanced sphere-forming ability, reduced sensitivity to radiation and conventional chemotherapy and demonstrated resistance to the EGFR-targeting drug, gefitinib. In addition, long-term culture of feline SSC1 cells in gefitinib caused a change in cell morphology and gene expression reminiscent of an epithelial to mesenchymal transition. Taken together, these results suggest that feline SCC may be driven by small subset of cancer stem cells.
- Feline squamous cell carcinoma
- Cancer stem cell