Cancer metastasis is the foremost cause of death in cancer patients. A series of observable pathological changes takes place during progression and metastasis of cancer, but the underlying genetic changes remain unclear. Therefore, new approaches are required, including insights from cancer mouse models. To examine the mechanisms involved in tumor metastasis, we first generated a stably transfected Lewis Lung carcinoma cell line expressing a far-red fluorescent protein, called Katushka. After in vivo growth in syngeneic mice, two fluorescent Lewis Lung cancer subpopulations were isolated from primary tumors and lung metastases. The metastasis-derived cells exhibited a significant improvement in in vitro invasive activity compared to the primary tumor-derived cells, using a quantitative invasion chamber assay. Moreover, expression levels of 84 tumor metastasis-related mRNAs, 88 cancer-related microRNAs as well as Dicer and Drosha were determined using RT-qPCR. Compared to the primary Lewis Lung carcinoma subculture, the metastasis-derived cells exhibited statistically significantly increased mRNA levels for several matrix metalloproteinases as well as hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and spleen tyrosine kinase (SYK). A modest decrease in Drosha and Dicer mRNA levels was accompanied by significant downregulation of ten microRNAs, including miR-9 and miR-203, in the lung metastatic Lewis Lung carcinoma cell culture. Thus, a tool for cancer metastasis studies has been established and the model is well suited for the identification of novel microRNAs and mRNAs involved in malignant progression. Our results suggest that increases in metalloproteinase expression and impairment of microRNA processing are involved in the acquirement of metastatic ability.
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