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New findings in breast cancer
Date:4/18/2012

te scenario," Petersen says. "We wanted to learn more about possible tumor suppressive properties so we set out to characterize the bulk of the tumor, which we assumed would not be tumor-initiating."

Most breast cancers originate in the milk ducts and lobules, which consist of luminal cells surrounded by basal cells, and the two most frequent subtypes of human breast cancer cells are named luminal-like and basal-like after their resemblance to the two major lineages in the normal human breast. For the past several years, it has been widely believed that basal-like cells with the undifferentiated qualities of stem cells were the source of invasive tumors. However, since a majority of breast cancers exhibit luminal cell differentiation, the Petersen-Bissell collaboration investigated whether luminal-like differentiated cells within a basal-like cell hierarchy could also become tumorigenic, or must these luminal-like cells acquire basal-like traits to become malignant.

"We applied some rare and mutually exclusive lineage markers to isolate subsets of luminal-like and basal-like breast cancer cells, which enabled us to do single cell cloning with a reasonable success rate," Petersen says. "We enriched for populations with or without prominent basal-like traits from individual tumors, and from single cell cloning of cell lines and recovered cells with a luminal-like phenotype."

What they discovered was that luminal-like cells without specific basal-like traits were fully capable of initiating tumors in laboratory test mice; in fact, the tumors generated by luminal-like cells were larger than those from basal-like cells. In addition, when tested in an invasion assay, these phenotypically pure luminal-like cells were more invasive than the basal-like cells.

"Our findings demonstrate that basal-like cells, as defined currently, are not a requirement for breast tumor aggressiveness and that within a single tumor there are multiple cell
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Contact: Lynn Yarris
lcyarris@lbl.gov
510-486-5375
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

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