Terminal Differentiation-resistant Epidermal Cells in Mice Undergoing Two-Stage Carcinogenesis

Don R. Miller, Aurora Viaje, Claudio M. Aldaz, Claudio J. Conti, Thomas J. Slaga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


We have used an in vivo-in vitro approach to investigate the cellular aspects of two-stage skin carcinogenesis. Female SENCAR mice initiated with N-methyl-N'nitro-N-nitrosoguanidine (MNNG) were promoted twice weekly with 12-0-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA). Epidermal cultures from untreated or TPA-treated mice had few focus-forming cells resistant to calcium-induced terminal differentiation. Cultures from mice treated with MNNG alone formed numerous foci. Brief promotion (four TPA treatments) of MNNG-treated mice produced fewer but statistically larger foci, suggesting that TPA was selecting against more slowly growing cells. MNNG plus TPA-treated mice with very early papillomas produced more and larger foci than those due to MNNG treatment alone, suggesting that the papillomas may have comprised calcium-resistant cells. These cells may indeed be initiated cells since a permanent cell line arising after MNNG plus brief TPA treatment eventually formed histological papillomas in vivo. If calcium-resistant cells are initiated, then there were many more initiated cells in the skin (with or without TPA treatment) than papillomas expected, implying that either some initiated cells never formed papillomas, or that a significant accumulation of initiated cells had already occurred in the skin within 2 weeks of MNNG treatment. Subsequent TPA promotion of these cells apparently produced a toxic response that passively selected for more rapidly growing initiated cells, which eventually accumulated into papillomas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1935-1940
Number of pages6
JournalCancer Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 1987
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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