• Cancer stem cell;
  • CD133;
  • Glioblastoma;
  • Self-renewal


The role of the cell surface CD133 as a cancer stem cell marker in glioblastoma (GBM) has been widely investigated, since it identifies cells that are able to initiate neurosphere growth and form heterogeneous tumors when transplanted in immune-compromised mice. However, evidences of CD133-negative cells exhibiting similar properties have also been reported. Moreover, the functional role of CD133 in cancer stem/progenitor cells remains poorly understood. We studied the biological effects of CD133 downregulation in GBM patient-derived neurospheres. Our results indicate that there is not a hierarchical relation between CD133-positive and CD133-negative cells composing the neurospheres. Indeed, CD133 appears in an interconvertible state, changing its subcellular localization between the cytoplasm and the plasmamembrane of neurosphere cells. Silencing of CD133 in human GBM neurospheres using lentivirus-mediated short hairpin RNA impairs the self-renewal and tumorigenic capacity of neurosphere cells. These results imply that CD133 could be used as a therapeutic target in GBMs. STEM CELLS 2013;31:857–869