Cell migration is critical for regional dissemination and distal metastasis of cancer cells, which remain the major causes of poor prognosis and death in patients with colorectal cancer (CRC). Although cytoskeletal dynamics and cellular deformability contribute to the migration of cancer cells and metastasis, the mechanisms governing the migratory ability of cancer stem cells (CSCs), a nongenetic source of tumor heterogeneity, are unclear. Here, we expanded colorectal CSCs (CRCSCs) as colonospheres and showed that CRCSCs exhibited higher cell motility in transwell migration assays and 3D invasion assays and greater deformability in particle tracking microrheology than did their parental CRC cells. Mechanistically, in CRCSCs, microRNA-210-3p (miR-210) targeted stathmin1 (STMN1), which is known for inducing microtubule destabilization, to decrease cell elasticity in order to facilitate cell motility without affecting the epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) status. Clinically, the miR-210-STMN1 axis was activated in CRC patients with liver metastasis and correlated with a worse clinical outcome. This study elucidates a miRNA-oriented mechanism regulating the deformability of CRCSCs beyond the EMT process.
ASJC Scopus subject areas