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Br J Cancer. 1998 Sep;78(5):631-40.

In vitro invasion of small-cell lung cancer cell lines correlates with expression of epidermal growth factor receptor.

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Section for Radiation Biology, Finsen Center, University Hospital Copenhagen, Rigshospitalet, Denmark.


Formation of metastasis is a multistep process involving attachment to the basement membrane, local proteolysis and migration into surrounding tissues, lymph or bloodstream. In the present study, we have analysed the correlation between in vitro invasion and presence of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) in a panel of 21 small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) cell lines. We have previously reported that ten of these cell lines expressed EGFR protein detected by radioreceptor and affinity labelling assays. In 11 small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) cell lines, EGFR mRNA was detected by Northern blot analysis. In vitro invasion in a Boyden chamber assay was found in all EGFR-positive cell lines, whereas no invasion was detected in the EGFR-negative cell lines. Quantification of the in vitro invasion in 12 selected SCLC cell lines demonstrated that, in the EGFR-positive cell lines, between 5% and 16% of the cells added to the upper chamber were able to traverse the Matrigel membrane. Expression of several matrix metalloproteases (MMP), of tissue inhibitor of MMP (TIMP) and of cathepsin B was evaluated by immunoprecipitation, Western blot analysis and reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). However, in vitro invasive SCLC cell lines could not be distinguished from non-invasive cell lines based on the expression pattern of these molecules. In six SCLC cell lines, in vitro invasion was also determined in the presence of the EGFR-neutralizing monoclonal antibody mAb528. The addition of this antibody resulted in a significant reduction of the in vitro invasion in three selected EGFR-positive cell lines. Our results show that only EGFR-positive SCLC cell lines had the in vitro invasive phenotype, and it is therefore suggested that the EGFR might play an important role for the invasion potential of SCLC cell lines.

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