C3HeB/FeJ Mice mimic many aspects of gene expression and pathobiological features of human hepatocellular carcinoma

Jessica A. Zavadil, Maryanne C.S. Herzig, Kim Hildreth, Amir Foroushani, William Boswell, Ronald Walter, Robert Reddick, HUGH WHITE, Habil Zare, Christi A. Walter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remains a deadly cancer, underscoring the need for relevant preclinical models. Male C3HeB/FeJ mice model spontaneous HCC with some hepatocarcinogenesis susceptibility loci corresponding to syntenic regions of human chromosomes altered in HCC. We tested other properties of C3HeB/FeJ tumors for similarity to human HCC. C3HeB/FeJ tumors were grossly visible at 4 months of age, with prevalence and size increasing until about 11 months of age. Histologic features shared with human HCC include hepatosteatosis, tumor progression from dysplasia to poorly differentiated, vascular invasion, and trabecular, oncocytic, vacuolar, and clear cell variants. More tumor cells displayed cytoplasmic APE1 staining versus normal liver. Ultrasound effectively detected and monitored tumors, with 85.7% sensitivity. Over 5000 genes were differentially expressed based on the GSE62232 and GSE63898 human HCC datasets. Of these, 158 and 198 genes, respectively, were also differentially expressed in C3HeB/FeJ. Common cancer pathways, cell cycle, p53 signaling and other molecular aspects, were shared between human and mouse differentially expressed genes. We established eigengenes that distinguish HCC from normal liver in the C3HeB/FeJ model and a subset of human HCC. These features extend the relevance and improve the utility of the C3HeB/FeJ line for HCC studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)309-320
Number of pages12
JournalMolecular Carcinogenesis
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2019


  • APE1
  • eigengene
  • gene expression
  • hepatocellular carcinoma
  • liver tumor
  • mouse model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cancer Research


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