Fibroblast growth factor overexpressing breast carcinoma cells as models of angiogenesis and metastasis

Sandra W. McLeskey, Lurong Zhang, Samir Kharbanda, Junichi Kurebayashi, Marc E. Lippman, Robert B. Dickson, Francis G. Kern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Progression of breast cancer from an estrogen-dependent, slowly growing tumor amenable to tamoxifen treatment to an aggressive, metastatic, estrogen-independent phenotype has been mimicked by the transfection of MCF-7 breast carcinoma cells with fibroblast growth factors 1 or 4. FGF-transfected cells are aggressively tumorigenic in ovariectomized or tamoxifen-treated nude mice, conditions under which the parental cells would not produce tumors. When detection of metastasis was enhanced by lacZ transfection, the FGF-transfected MCF-7 cells were reliably metastatic to lymph nodes and frequently metastatic to lungs, in further contrast to parental cells. An antiangiogenic drug, AGM-1470, given to mice bearing tumors produced by FGF-transfected MCF-7 cells, produced a decrease in tumor size. The decreased tumor size was not as marked as that produced by treatment with pentosan polysulfate, an agent which would abrogate all autocrine or paracrine effects of the transfected FGF. Thus, increased angiogenesis may be a component of the phenotypic change produced by the FGF transfection, but other autocrine or paracrine effects may also be important. Since a clonal FGF-4 and lacZ doubly-transfected cell line, MKL-4, progressively lost expression of the transfected lacZ gene in individual cells, we performed successive rounds of fluorescence-activated cell sorting to select high-expressing cells. High-expressing cell populations thus obtained rapidly lost expression of β-gal activity in continued culture. High β-gal expressing clonal cell lines of MKL-4 cells established by either one or two rounds of low-density cloning also lost lacZ expression with continued culture. Southern analysis of DNA from lacZ transfected cell lines showed the transfected sequences to be present and grossly intact in both high and low expressing populations. However, Northern analysis revealed that high-expressing populations of MKL-4 cells contained the most lacZ mRNA, implying that in the unstable MKL-4 cell line, individual cells are down-regulating mRNA levels of lacZ. Stable lacZ expression has been obtained in other FGF-transfected and parental MCF-7 cell lines using the same expression vector. Thus, the MKL-4 cell line is down-regulating mRNA encoding the transfected gene through a mechanism not dependent on the CMV promotor utilized in the expression vector. This evidence suggests that lacZ expression is not a benign modification in certain cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-117
Number of pages15
JournalBreast cancer research and treatment
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • AGM 1470
  • Beta-galactosidase
  • Fibroblast growth factors
  • Hormone dependence
  • Metastasis
  • Pentosan polysulfate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Fibroblast growth factor overexpressing breast carcinoma cells as models of angiogenesis and metastasis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this