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Cancer Res. 2007 Apr 15;67(8):3594-600.

Cancer cell lines as genetic models of their parent histology: analyses based on array comparative genomic hybridization.

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  • 1Translational Medicine and Genetics, GlaxoSmithKline, 1250 South Collegeville Road, Collegeville, PA 19426, USA.


Tumor-derived cell lines are used as in vitro cancer models, but their ability to accurately reflect the phenotype and genotype of the parental histology remains questionable, given the prevalence of documented cell line-specific cytogenetic changes. We have addressed the issue of whether copy number alterations seen in tumor-derived cell lines reflect those observed in studies of fresh tissue by carrying out a meta-analysis of array-based comparative genomic hybridization data that considers both copy number alteration frequencies and the occurrence of cancer gene amplifications and homozygous deletions. Pairwise correlation comparisons between the data sets of seven diagnosis-specific matched tumor and cell line groups indicate that the trends in aberration frequencies are highly correlated between tumors and cell line sets of matched cancer histology relative to unmatched pairings. Despite their similarities, cell lines showed uniformly higher locus-specific alteration frequencies (P = 0.004) and several recurring cell line-specific alterations emerged. These include the previously documented losses of 13q and 9p and gains of 20q, as well as additional undescribed cell line-specific gains of 5p, 7p, and 17q and losses of 18q and 4q. These results indicate that, on average, cell lines preserve in vitro the genetic aberrations that are unique to the parent histology from which they were derived while acquiring additional locus-specific alterations. These data may enable a more predictive understanding of individual cell lines as in vitro models of cancer biology and therapy.

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