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Br J Cancer. 2013 Oct 15;109(8):2228-36. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2013.549. Epub 2013 Sep 24.

Functional characterisation of osteosarcoma cell lines and identification of mRNAs and miRNAs associated with aggressive cancer phenotypes.

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1] Cancer Stem Cell Innovation Centre, Institute of Cancer Research, Oslo University Hospital, The Norwegian Radium Hospital, PO Box 4953, Nydalen, Oslo 0424, Norway [2] Department of Tumor Biology, Institute of Cancer Research, Oslo University Hospital, The Norwegian Radium Hospital, PO Box 4953, Nydalen, Oslo 0424, Norway.



Osteosarcoma is the most common primary malignant bone tumour, predominantly affecting children and adolescents. Cancer cell line models are required to understand the underlying mechanisms of tumour progression and for preclinical investigations.


To identify cell lines that are well suited for studies of critical cancer-related phenotypes, such as tumour initiation, growth and metastasis, we have evaluated 22 osteosarcoma cell lines for in vivo tumorigenicity, in vitro colony-forming ability, invasive/migratory potential and proliferation capacity. Importantly, we have also identified mRNA and microRNA (miRNA) gene expression patterns associated with these phenotypes by expression profiling.


The cell lines exhibited a wide range of cancer-related phenotypes, from rather indolent to very aggressive. Several mRNAs were differentially expressed in highly aggressive osteosarcoma cell lines compared with non-aggressive cell lines, including RUNX2, several S100 genes, collagen genes and genes encoding proteins involved in growth factor binding, cell adhesion and extracellular matrix remodelling. Most notably, four genes-COL1A2, KYNU, ACTG2 and NPPB-were differentially expressed in high and non-aggressive cell lines for all the cancer-related phenotypes investigated, suggesting that they might have important roles in the process of osteosarcoma tumorigenesis. At the miRNA level, miR-199b-5p and mir-100-3p were downregulated in the highly aggressive cell lines, whereas miR-155-5p, miR-135b-5p and miR-146a-5p were upregulated. miR-135b-5p and miR-146a-5p were further predicted to be linked to the metastatic capacity of the disease.


The detailed characterisation of cell line phenotypes will support the selection of models to use for specific preclinical investigations. The differentially expressed mRNAs and miRNAs identified in this study may represent good candidates for future therapeutic targets. To our knowledge, this is the first time that expression profiles are associated with functional characteristics of osteosarcoma cell lines.

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