Differentially expressed genes associated with the metastatic phenotype in breast cancer

Dawn A. Kirschmann, Elisabeth A. Seftor, Daniel R.C. Nieva, Elpidio A. Mariano, Mary J.C. Hendrix

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


We have previously shown that human breast carcinoma cells demonstrating an interconverted phenotype, where keratin (epithelial marker) and vimentin (mesenchymal marker) intermediate filaments are both expressed, have an increased ability to invade a basement membrane matrix in vitro. This increase in invasive potential has been demonstrated in MDA-MB-231 cells, which constitutively express keratins and vimentin, and in MCF-7 cells transfected with the mouse vimentin gene (MoVi). However, vimentin expression alone is not sufficient to confer the complete metastatic phenotype in MoVi cells, as determined by orthotopic administration. Thus, in the present study, differential display analysis was utilized to identify genes that are associated with the invasive and/or metastatic phenotype of several human breast cancer cell lines. Forty-four of 84 PCR fragments were differentially expressed as assessed by Northern hybridization analysis of RN4 isolated from MCF-7, MoVi, and MB-231 cell lines. Polyadenylated RNA from a panel of poorly invasive, invasive/non-metastatic, and invasive/metastatic breast carcinoma cell lines was used to differentiate between cell-specific gene expression and genes associated with the invasive and/or metastatic phenotype(s). We observed that lysyl oxidase and a zinc finger transcription factor were expressed only in the invasive and/or metastatic cell lines; whereas, a thiol-specific antioxidant and a heterochromatin protein were down-regulated in these cells. In contrast, tissue factor was expressed only in breast carcinoma cell lines having the highest invasive potential. These results suggest that specific genes involved in breast cancer invasion and metastasis can be separated by differential display methodology to elucidate the molecular basis of tumor cell progression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-136
Number of pages10
JournalBreast Cancer Research and Treatment
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1999


  • Breast cancer
  • Differential display
  • Gene expression
  • Invasion
  • Metastasis


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