Cancer cell line selection made easy

29 Sep 2017
Dr Jodi Saunus

Breast cancer is an extremely variable disease – from genetic alterations through to cellular composition, appearance down the microscope and response to treatment, no two breast tumours are the same.

Dr Jodi Saunus said this diversity poses challenges in the clinic, and also in the research setting in terms of selecting experimental models that accurately simulate human disease.

“Cell lines provide a perpetual and reproducible source of tumour cells for performing experiments in the lab, and are widely used around the world,” Dr Saunus said.

“As we understand more about the genetics and biology of breast cancer, it is becoming increasingly important to develop matching knowledge about cell line models.

The team assembled a cohort of 36 breast cancer cell lines and profiled them using cutting-edge molecular technologies, including digital PanCancer pathway expression and cell-by-cell protein profiling.

“We found that like human breast cancers, cell lines are also very heterogeneous, with individual cells from the same dish exhibiting variable features, even after long periods of controlled in vitro culture that might be expected to ‘equalise’ their molecular profiles,” she said.

“While we originally set out to map key molecular features of each line in order to improve the way we design and interpret experiments here at the UQCCR, we realised this information could be more widely useful.

“So compiled the data into a short manuscript with concise/convenient summary tables that others can use to inform cell line selection and consider when interpreting experimental data.”

Download paper in Breast Cancer Research and Treatment