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Mol Cancer Res. 2005 Mar;3(3):119-29.

Analysis of tumor-host interactions by gene expression profiling of lung adenocarcinoma xenografts identifies genes involved in tumor formation.

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  • 1Bioinformatics Program, Department of Pathology, University of Michigan, 4237 Med Sci I, 1150 West Medical Center Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA.


Tumor cell lines are relied on extensively for cancer investigations, yet cultured cells in an in vitro environment differ considerably in behavior compared with those of the same cancer cells that proliferate and form tumors in vivo. To uncover gene expression changes related to tumor formation, gene expression profiles of human lung adenocarcinoma (A549) cells grown as lung tumors in immune-compromised mice were compared with profiles of the same cells grown in vitro. Additionally, profiles of uninvolved adjacent mouse tissue were determined. A profound interplay between cancer cells and the host was shown that affected a complex protein interaction network involving processes of extracellular interaction, growth factor signaling, hemostasis, immune response, and transcriptional regulation. Growth in vivo of A549 cells, which carry an activating k-ras mutation, induced changes in gene expression that corresponded highly to a pattern characteristic of human lung tumors with k-ras mutation. Cytokines interleukin-4, interleukin-6, and IFN-gamma each induced distinct in vitro genomic responses in cancer cells that emulated many of the changes in gene expression observed in vivo. Genes that were both selectively induced in vivo and overexpressed in human lung adenocarcinoma tumors included CSPG2, which has not been associated previously with tumor formation. Knockdown in A549 of CSPG2 by RNA interference significantly inhibited tumor growth in vivo but not in vitro. Thus, analysis of tumor xenografts by gene expression profiling has the potential for identifying genes involved in tumor development that may not be expressed in cancer cells grown in vitro.

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