Background: Molecular classification of human breast cancers has identified at least 5 distinct tumor subtypes; luminal A, luminal B, Her2-enriched, basal-like and claudin-low. The claudin-low subtype was identified in 2007 and is characterized by low expression of luminal differentiation markers and claudins 3, 4 and 7 and high levels of mesenchymal markers. Claudin-low tumors have a reported prevalence of 7-14% and these tumors have a poor prognosis.
Results: In this study we report the characterization of several cell lines established from mammary tumors that develop in MTB-IGFIR transgenic mice. Two lines, RM11A and RJ348 present with histological features and gene expression patterns that resemble claudin-low breast tumors. Specifically, RM11A and RJ348 cells express high levels of the mesenchymal genes Zeb1, Zeb2, Twist1 and Twist2 and very low levels of E-cadherin and claudins 3, 4 and 7. The RM11A and RJ348 cells are also highly tumorigenic when re-introduced into the mammary fat pad of mice.
Conclusions: Mammary tumor cells established from MTB-IGFIR transgenic mice can be used as in vitro and in vivo model systems to further our understanding of the poorly characterized, claudin-low, breast cancer subtype.