In vivo gene transfer between interacting human osteosarcoma cell lines is associated with acquisition of enhanced metastatic potential

J Cell Biochem. 2009 Oct 1;108(2):362-7. doi: 10.1002/jcb.22259.


We report here in vivo gene transfer between cancer cells is associated with acquisition of high metastatic behavior. The 143B-GFP cell line with high metastatic potential and the MNNG/HOS-RFP cell line with low metastatic potential, both derived from the TE85 human osteosarcoma cell line, were either co-transplanted or transplanted alone in the tibia in nude mice. Upon mixed transplantation of the two differently labeled sublines, resulting metastatic colonies are single colored either red or green, thereby demonstrating their clonality and enabling facile color-coded quantification. When MNNG/HOS-RFP and 143B-GFP were co-transplanted in the tibia, the number of lung metastases of MNNG/HOS-RFP increased eight-fold compared to MNNG/HOS-RFP transplanted alone (P < 0.01). In contrast, no enhancement of MNNG/HOS-RFP metastases occurred when MNNG/HOS-RFP and 143B-GFP were transplanted separately in the right and left tibiae, respectively. This result suggests that the presence of 143B-GFP increased the metastatic potential of MNNG/HOS-RFP within the mixed tumor. We observed transfer of the Ki-ras gene from 143B-GFP to MNNG/HOS-RFP after they were co-implanted suggesting the Ki-ras played a role in increasing the metastatic potential of MNNG/HOS-RFP in the presence of 143B-GFP. These data suggest the possible role of in vivo gene transfer in enhancing the metastatic potential of cancer cells. The data also further demonstrated the power of color-coded imaging to visualize cancer-cell/cancer-cell interactions in vivo.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Neoplasms
  • Cell Communication
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Female
  • Gene Transfer, Horizontal*
  • Genes, ras*
  • Germ-Free Life
  • Humans
  • Luminescent Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Luminescent Proteins / genetics
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Lung Neoplasms / secondary
  • Matched-Pair Analysis
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Molecular Imaging / methods
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / genetics*
  • Neoplasm Metastasis / pathology
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Osteosarcoma / genetics*
  • Osteosarcoma / pathology
  • Retroviridae / genetics
  • Tibia
  • Transduction, Genetic
  • Tumor Burden


  • Luminescent Proteins