Methods to define patterns of gene expression have applications in a wide range of biological systems. Several molecular biological techniques are used to study expression patterns during the neoplastic progression of breast epithelial cells. In the present study, differential expression of human oncogenes/tumor suppressor genes in human breast epithelial cell lines irradiated with low doses of high linear energy transfer radiation and treated with estrogen was assessed with cDNA expression arrays. Transformed and tumorigenic cell lines were compared with the control cell line to identify differentially expressed genes during tumorigenic progression. Autoradiographic analysis showed that of the 190 genes analyzed, 49 genes showed a high level of altered expression, and 12 genes had minor differences in expression levels. Among these 49 genes, 17 genes were altered at all stages of transformation, 21 were altered only at the early stage, and the remaining 11 were at the late stage of transformation to the tumorigenic stage of progression. Among the 11 late stage-associated genes, seven genes were altered exclusively in the tumorigenic cell lines and in Tumor-T. Of the 17 all-stage genes, six were randomly selected, and we confirmed their altered expression by gene-specific semiquantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, followed by Northern blot analysis. The results showed that the mRNA expression patterns of all these genes were consistent with the expression pattern seen on the array. Among these six genes, five genes, including c-myc, puf, MNDA, c-yes, and Fra-1 showed upregulation, and the other gene, RBA/p48, showed downregulation in the transformed and tumorigenic cell lines compared with the control MCF-10F cell line. Investigation of these genes should help establish the molecular mechanisms of progression that are altered by radiation and estrogen treatment. A number of candidates reported here should be useful as biomarkers involved in breast carcinogenesis.
Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.