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Clin Cancer Res. 2012 Nov 15;18(22):6178-87. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-12-1876. Epub 2012 Oct 2.

Establishment and characterization of novel cell lines from sinonasal undifferentiated carcinoma.

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Department of Head and Neck Surgery and Pathology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.



Sinonasal undifferentiated carcinoma (SNUC) is a rare and aggressive cancer. Despite the use of multimodality treatment, the overall prognosis remains poor. To better understand the biologic features of SNUC and help develop new therapies for the disease, we established SNUC cell lines and characterized their biologic behaviors.


Cell lines were established from a patient with a T4N0M0 SNUC of the right maxillary sinus who was treated with surgical resection at our center. Tumor colonies were harvested and were sequentially replated onto larger plates. Two populations were developed and labeled MDA8788-6 and MDA8788-7. These cell lines were characterized with molecular, biomarker, functional, and histologic analyses.


Short tandem repeat genotyping revealed that the cell line is isogenic to the parental tumor, and cytogenetic analysis identified 12 chromosomal translocations. The SNUC cell lines do not form colonies in soft agar but are tumorigenic and nonmetastatic in an orthotopic mouse model of sinonasal cancer. Western blot analysis revealed that both MDA8788 cell lines express epithelial markers but do not express mesenchymal markers or the endocrine marker synaptophysin.


This is the first report of the establishment of stable human-derived SNUC cell lines. The lines were highly tumorigenic and maintain the histologic and molecular features of the original tumor. These cell lines should serve as useful tools for the future study of SNUC biology and the development and testing of novel therapies for this deadly disease.

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