Creation of tumorigenic human endometrial epithelial cells with intact chromosomes by introducing defined genetic elements

Oncogene. 2006 Sep 14;25(41):5673-82. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1209575. Epub 2006 Apr 24.


Several genetic mutations have been identified in human endometrial cancers, but the specific combinations of mutations required to form endometrial cancer cells remain unknown. In the present study, we established an in vitro model of endometrial carcinogenesis, in which defined genetic elements were introduced into endometrial epithelial cells to create transformed endometrial cells at different stages. Introduction of the human papillomavirus type 16 E6/E7 gene and the human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) gene into human primary endometrial epithelial cells was sufficient to generate immortalized cells. Introduction of hTERT in early passages stabilized telomeres and created immortalized cells with normal karyotype, whereas introduction of hTERT in later passages generated immortalized cells but with widespread chromosome abnormalities. However, neither of those two immortalized cell lines exhibited tumorigenic phenotypes. Tumorigenic endometrial epithelial cells with invasive capacity were created by introducing a mutant K-ras allele into immortalized cells, keeping their chromosomes intact. Inhibiting the PTEN gene and activating Akt pathways did not create tumorigenic phenotypes, although the latter conferred anchorage-independent growth capacity. These findings suggest that neoplastic transformation of human endometrial cells can occur in the absence of widespread chromosomal abnormality, and that the combination of Rb inactivation, telomerase activation and altered K-ras signaling is sufficient for in vitro neoplastic transformation. The present experimental model can help clarify the genetic requirements for endometrial carcinogenesis, and it is useful for testing and developing specific inhibitors of specific oncogenic pathways.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic
  • Chromosomes, Human*
  • DNA Primers
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / pathology
  • Epithelial Cells
  • Female
  • Genes, ras
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Microsatellite Repeats / genetics
  • Mutation
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase / genetics
  • Telomerase / genetics


  • DNA Primers
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Telomerase
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase
  • PTEN protein, human