Gene expression profiles of epithelial cells microscopically isolated from a breast-invasive ductal carcinoma and a nodal metastasis

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Dec 28;101(52):18147-52. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0408260101. Epub 2004 Dec 17.


Expression profiles of breast carcinomas are difficult to interpret when they are obtained from tissue in toto, which may contain a large proportion of non-cancer cells. To avoid this problem, we microscopically isolated cells from a primary invasive ductal carcinoma of the breast and from an axillary node harboring a metastatic breast carcinoma, to obtain pure populations of carcinoma cells ( approximately 500) and used them for serial analysis of gene expression. The expression profiles generated from both populations of cells were compared with the profile of a disease-free mammary epithelium. We showed that the expression profiles obtained are exclusive of carcinoma cells with no contribution of non-epithelial cells. From a total of 16,939 unique tags analyzed, we detected 559 statistically significant changes in gene expression; some of these genes have not been previously associated with breast cancer. We observed that many of the down-regulated genes are the same in both cancers, whereas the up-regulated genes are completely different, suggesting that the down-regulation of a set of genes may be the basic mechanism of cancer formation, while the up-regulation may characterize and possibly control the state of evolution of individual cancers. The results obtained may help in characterizing the neoplastic process of breast cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breast / metabolism
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Carcinoma / genetics
  • Carcinoma / pathology*
  • DNA, Complementary / metabolism
  • Down-Regulation
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism*
  • Epithelium / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Gene Library
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Lymphatic Metastasis*
  • Up-Regulation


  • DNA, Complementary