Gene expression changes during repopulation in a head and neck cancer xenograft

George D. Wilson, Bryan J. Thibodeau, Laura E. Fortier, Barbara L. Pruetz, Sandra Galoforo, Jan Akervall, Brian Marples, Jiayi Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background/purpose: To investigate temporal changes in global gene expression and pathways involved in the response to irradiation during phases of growth inhibition, recovery and repopulation in a human head and neck squamous cell cancer (HNSCC) xenograft. Methods and materials: Low passage head and neck squamous cancer cells (UT-14-SCC) were injected into the flanks of female nu/nu mice to generate xenografts. After tumors reached a size of 500 mm3, they were treated with either sham RT or 15 Gy in one fraction. At different time points, days 0, 3, and 10 for controls and days 4, 7, 12, and 21 after irradiation, the tumors were harvested for global gene expression analysis and pathway analysis. Results: The tumors showed growth inhibition through days 4-7 and began the transition to regrowth around the day 12 time point. When comparing the pooled controls to each day of treatment, there were 22, 119, 125, and 25 differentially expressed genes on days 4, 7, 12, and 21 respectively using a p 6 0.01 and a 2-fold cut-off. Gene Ontology (GO), gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA) and sub-network enrichment analysis (SNEA) identified different biological processes, cell process pathways and expression targets to be active on each time point after irradiation. An important observation was that the molecular events on day 12 which represented the transition from growth inhibition to regrowth identified interferon and cytokine related genes and signaling pathways as the most prominent. Conclusion: The findings in this study compliment research which has identified components of interferon- related signaling pathways to be involved in radioresistance. Further work will be required to understand the significance of these genes in both radioresistance and treatment response leading to new therapeutic strategies and prognostic tools.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-145
Number of pages7
JournalRadiotherapy and Oncology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014


  • Gene expression
  • Head and neck
  • Interferon
  • Repopulation


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