PSF1 (partner of sld five 1) is an evolutionarily conserved DNA replication factor implicated in DNA replication in lower species that is strongly expressed in a wide range of normal stem cell populations and progenitor cell populations. Because stem and progenitor cells possess high proliferative capacity, we hypothesized that PSF1 may play an important role in tumor growth. To begin to investigate PSF1 function in cancer cells, we cloned the mouse PSF1 promoter and generated lung and colon carcinoma cells that stably express a PSF1 promoter-reporter gene. Reporter expression in cells correlated with endogenous PSF1 mRNA expression. In a tumor cell xenograft model, high levels of reporter expression correlated with high proliferative activity, serial transplantation potential, and metastatic capability. Notably, cancer cells expressing reporter levels localized to perivascular regions in tumors and displayed expression signatures related to embryonic stem cells. RNAi-mediated silencing of endogenous PSF1 inhibited cancer cell growth by disrupting DNA synthesis and chromosomal segregation. These findings implicate PSF1 in tumorigenesis and offer initial evidence of its potential as a theranostic target.
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