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Eur J Cancer. 1992;28A(12):1989-95.

lacZ transduced human breast cancer xenografts as an in vivo model for the study of invasion and metastasis.

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Finsen Laboratory, Copenhagen, Denmark.


A number of human cancer cell lines have been described as being invasive and metastatic in immune incompetent animals. However, it is difficult to assess metastatic spread of a subcutaneously injected or inoculated cell line, since an exact detection of all microfoci of human tumour cells in the animals by usual histological procedures would require extensive sectioning of the whole animal. To overcome this problem, we transduced human breast cancer cells with a replication-defective Moloney murine leukaemia retroviral vector (M-MuLV) containing both neoR (neomycin resistance) and lacZ genes. The resulting cell lines were selected for antibiotic (G418) resistance, and cell-sorted for lacZ expression. lacZ continued to be expressed in cultured cells for at least 20 passages without further G418 selection. The lacZ gene codes for beta-D-galactosidase, and cells expressing this gene stain blue with the chromogenic substrate X-gal. The lacZ-expressing cells retained the pre-transduction ability to traverse Matrigel in vitro, to form subcutaneous tumours in nude mice, and to grow invasively with the formation of metastases. X-gal staining showed high specificity, staining the tumour cells but not the surrounding mouse tissue on either whole tissue blocks or histological sections. The staining procedure was highly sensitive, allowing detection of microfoci of human cancer cells, and quantitative estimation of the metastatic capacity of the cells. These results indicate that lacZ transduction of human tumour cells is a powerful means of studying human cancer cell invasion and metastases in vivo.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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