Distant metastases of human breast cancers have been suggested to be more different from each other than from their respective primary tumors, based on expression profiling. The mechanism behind this lack of similarity between individual metastases is not known. We used cDNA microarrays to determine the expression profiles of pulmonary metastases and primary mammary tumors in two distinct transgenic models expressing either the Neu or the Wnt-1 oncogene from the mouse mammary tumor virus long terminal repeat (MMTV LTR). We found that pulmonary metastases are similar to each other and to their primary tumors within the same line. However, metastases arising in one transgenic mouse line are very different from either metastases or primary tumors arising in the other line. In addition, we found that, like their primary tumors, lung metastases in Wnt-1 transgenic mice harbor both epithelial and myoepithelial tumor cells and cells that express the putative progenitor cell marker keratin 6. Our data suggest that both gene expression profiles and cellular heterogeneity are preserved after breast cancer has spread to distant sites, and that metastases are similar to each other when their primary tumors were induced by the same oncogene and from the same subset of mammary cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research