Differentially expressed genes associated with the metastatic phenotype in breast cancer

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 1999 May;55(2):127-36. doi: 10.1023/a:1006188129423.


We have previously shown that human breast carcinoma cells demonstrating an interconverted phenotype, where keratin (epithelial marker) and vimentin (mesenchymal marker) intermediate filaments are both expressed, have an increased ability to invade a basement membrane matrix in vitro. This increase in invasive potential has been demonstrated in MDA-MB-231 cells, which constitutively express keratins and vimentin, and in MCF-7 cells transfected with the mouse vimentin gene (MoVi). However, vimentin expression alone is not sufficient to confer the complete metastatic phenotype in MoVi cells, as determined by orthotopic administration. Thus, in the present study, differential display analysis was utilized to identify genes that are associated with the invasive and/or metastatic phenotype of several human breast cancer cell lines. Forty-four of 84 PCR fragments were differentially expressed as assessed by Northern hybridization analysis of RNA isolated from MCF-7, MoVi, and MB-231 cell lines. Polyadenylated RNA from a panel of poorly invasive, invasive/non-metastatic, and invasive/metastatic breast carcinoma cell lines was used to differentiate between cell-specific gene expression and genes associated with the invasive and/or metastatic phenotype(s). We observed that lysyl oxidase and a zinc finger transcription factor were expressed only in the invasive and/or metastatic cell lines; whereas, a thiol-specific antioxidant and a heterochromatin protein were down-regulated in these cells. In contrast, tissue factor was expressed only in breast carcinoma cell lines having the highest invasive potential. These results suggest that specific genes involved in breast cancer invasion and metastasis can be separated by differential display methodology to elucidate the molecular basis of tumor cell progression.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / genetics
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Animals
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / biosynthesis*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Blotting, Northern
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone / biosynthesis
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone / genetics
  • DNA, Complementary / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / biosynthesis
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Expressed Sequence Tags
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Homeodomain Proteins*
  • Humans
  • Keratins / biosynthesis
  • Keratins / genetics
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / genetics*
  • Neoplasm Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Phenotype
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Protein-Lysine 6-Oxidase / biosynthesis
  • Protein-Lysine 6-Oxidase / genetics
  • Repressor Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Repressor Proteins / genetics
  • Subtraction Technique
  • Transcription Factors*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Vimentin / biosynthesis
  • Vimentin / genetics
  • Zinc Finger E-box-Binding Homeobox 1
  • Zinc Fingers / genetics


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone
  • DNA, Complementary
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • Vimentin
  • ZEB1 protein, human
  • Zinc Finger E-box-Binding Homeobox 1
  • heterochromatin-specific nonhistone chromosomal protein HP-1
  • Keratins
  • Protein-Lysine 6-Oxidase