Metastatic lung cancer in a new mouse model inheriting p53 and latent K-ras mutations

Shuling Zheng, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Lung cancer is a devastating disease with very poor prognosis. The design of better treatments for patients would be greatly aided by mouse models that closely resemble the human disease. The most common type of human lung cancer is adenocarcinoma with frequent metastasis. Unfortunately, current models for this tumor are inadequate due to the absence of metastasis. Based on the molecular findings in human lung cancer and metastatic potential of osteosarcomas in mutant p53 mouse models, I hypothesized that mice with both K-ras and p53 missense mutations might develop metastatic lung adenocarcinomas. Therefore, I incorporated both K-rasLA1 and p53RI72HΔg alleles into mouse lung cells to establish a more faithful model for human lung adenocarcinoma and for translational and mechanistic studies. Mice with both mutations ( K-rasLA1/+ p53R172HΔg/+) developed advanced lung adenocarcinomas with similar histopathology to human tumors. These lung adenocarcinomas were highly aggressive and metastasized to multiple intrathoracic and extrathoracic sites in a pattern similar to that seen in lung cancer patients. This mouse model also showed gender differences in cancer related death and developed pleural mesotheliomas in 23.2% of them. In a preclinical study, the new drug Erlotinib (Tarceva) decreased the number and size of lung lesions in this model. These data demonstrate that this mouse model most closely mimics human metastatic lung adenocarcinoma and provides an invaluable system for translational studies. To screen for important genes for metastasis, gene expression profiles of primary lung adenocarcinomas and metastases were analyzed. Microarray data showed that these two groups were segregated in gene expression and had 79 highly differentially expressed genes (more than 2.5 fold changes and p<0.001). Microarray data of Bub1b, Vimentin and CCAM1 were validated in tumors by quantitative real-time PCR (QPCR). Bub1b , a mitotic checkpoint gene, was overexpressed in metastases and this correlated with more chromosomal abnormalities in metastatic cells. Vimentin, a marker of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), was also highly expressed in metastases. Interestingly, Twist, a key EMT inducer, was also highly upregulated in metastases by QPCR, and this significantly correlated with the overexpression of Vimentin in the same tumors. These data suggest EMT occurs in lung adenocarcinomas and is a key mechanism for the development of metastasis in K-ras LA1/+ p53R172HΔg/+ mice. Thus, this mouse model provides a unique system to further probe the molecular basis of metastatic lung cancer.

Subject Area

Molecular biology|Genetics|Pathology

Recommended Citation

Zheng, Shuling, "Metastatic lung cancer in a new mouse model inheriting p53 and latent K-ras mutations" (2006). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3231751.