Morphotypic plasticity in vitro and in nude mice of epithelial mouse mammary cells (NMuMG) displaying an epithelioid (e) or a fibroblastic (f) morphotype in culture

Clin Exp Metastasis. 1996 May;14(3):282-96. doi: 10.1007/BF00053902.


Transition from an epithelioid (e-) to a fibroblastic (f-) morphotype marks invasiveness in clinical and experimental cancer. To understand better the factors influencing such transitions, we have subcloned and manipulated mouse mammary gland (NMuMG) cell cultures and compared the invasive phenotype of multiple subclones in vitro and in vivo. Cell lines with an e-morphotype expressed E-cadherin homogeneously and were not invasive in vitro. Cells with an f-morphotype were E-cadherin-negative and became fully invasive in vitro upon expression of the ras oncogene. Invasive tumors were produced in node mice after subcutaneous injection of e-type or f-type cells. These tumors showed cystic, glandular and undifferentiated structures. Tumors from f-type cells were E-cadherin-negative whereas e-type tumors stained heterogeneously in immunohistochemical preparations. Our observations demonstrate the impact of the micro-ecosystem on the invasive phenotype, with in vivo downregulation of E-cadherin and stimulation of the e- to f-morphotype transition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cadherins / metabolism
  • Cell Line / cytology
  • Cell Line, Transformed
  • Chick Embryo
  • Epithelial Cells
  • Female
  • Genes, ras
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Keratins / metabolism
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / cytology*
  • Mammary Glands, Animal / ultrastructure
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Animal / genetics
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Animal / pathology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness


  • Cadherins
  • Keratins