Analysis of gene amplification in human tumor cell lines

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1988 Sep;85(18):6846-50. doi: 10.1073/pnas.85.18.6846.


Oncogene amplification has been observed in various primary tumors and tumor-derived cell lines. In several types of cancer, amplification of specific oncogenes is correlated with the stage of tumor progression. To estimate the frequency of gene amplification in other tumor types and to determine whether the ability to grow in vivo is associated with gene amplification in tumor cell lines, we have developed a modified version of the in-gel renaturation assay that detects human DNA sequences of unknown nature amplified as little as 7- to 8-fold. This assay was used to screen 16 cell lines derived from various solid tumors and leukemias. Amplified DNA sequences were detected in only one cell line, Calu-3 lung adenocarcinoma. This cell line was found to contain coamplified NGL (formerly termed neu) and ERBA1 oncogenes. However, when one of the amplification-negative cell lines, PC-3 prostatic carcinoma, was selected for in vivo growth in nude mice, amplified DNA sequences became detectable in these cells. The amplified sequences included the MYC oncogene, which showed no amplification in the parental cell line but was amplified 10- to 12-fold in the in vivo-selected cells. MYC amplification may, therefore, provide tumor cells with a selective advantage specific for in vivo growth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line
  • Gene Amplification*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oncogenes*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / genetics