A novel orthotopic mouse model of head and neck cancer and lymph node metastasis

Oncogenesis. 2013 Sep 9;2(9):e68. doi: 10.1038/oncsis.2013.33.


Prognosis of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is largely determined by the extent of lymph node (LN) metastasis at diagnosis, and this appears to be controlled by cancer cell genetics. To examine the role of these genes in LN metastasis, we created a human-in-mouse orthotopic model of HNSCC and performed comparative microarray analysis of gene expression between populations of HNSCC cell lines derived before and after serial transplantation and in vivo metastasis in mice. Microarray analysis comparing the USC-HN3-GFP, USC-HN3-GFP-G1 and USC-HN3-GFP-G2 cell lines identified overexpression of genes implicated in epithelial-to- mesenchymal transition and the formation of cancer stem cells, including CAV-1, TLR-4 (Toll-like receptor 4), MMP-7 (matrix metalloproteinase 7), ALDH1A3, OCT-4 and TRIM-29. Ingenuity Pathway Analysis confirmed upregulation of respective gene signaling pathways in the USC-HN1-GFP-G2 cell line. Patient HNSCC samples from advanced stages overexpressed ALDH1A3, CAV-1 and MMP-7. Our results show that CAV-1, TLR-4, MMP-7, ALDH1A3, OCT-4 and TRIM-29 have increased expression in HNSCC cells selected for an enhanced metastatic phenotype and suggest that these genes may have an important role in the metastatic potential of HNSCC cells. Inhibition of these genes may therefore have prognostic and therapeutic utility in HNSCC.