Inherited and noninherited sources of variation in metastasis and the growth rate of tumors: Implications for tumor evolution and therapy

John P. G Volpe, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


I have undertaken measurements of the genetic (or inherited) and nongenetic (or noninherited) components of the variability of metastasis formation and tumor diameter doubling time in more than 100 metastatic lines from each of three murine tumors (sarcoma SANH, sarcoma SA4020, and hepatocarcinoma HCA-I) syngeneic to C3Hf/Kam mice. These lines were isolated twice from lung metastases and analysed immediately thereafter to obtain the variance to spontaneous lung metastasis and tumor diameter doubling time. Additional studies utilized cells obtained from within 4 passages of isolation. Under the assumption that no genetic differences in metastasis formation or diameter doubling time existed among the cells of a given line, the variance within a line would estimate nongenetic variation. The variability derived from differences between lines would represent genetic origin. The estimates of the genetic contribution to the variation of metastasis and tumor diameter doubling time were significantly greater than zero, but only in the metastatic lines of tumor SANH was genetic variation the major source of metastatic variability (contributing 53% of the variability). In the tumor cell lines of SA4020 and HCA-I, however, the contribution of nongenetic factors predominated over genetic factors in the variability of the number of metastasis and tumor diameter doubling time. A number of other parameters examined, such as DNA content, karyotype, and selection and variance analysis with passage in vivo, indicated that genetic differences existed within the cell lines and that these differences were probably created by genetic instability. The mean metastatic propensity of the lines may have increased somewhat during their isolation and isotransplantation, but the variance was only slightly affected, if at all. Analysis of the DNA profiles of the metastatic lines of SA4020 and HCA-I revealed differences between these lines and their primary parent tumors, but not among the SANH lines and their parent tumor. Furthermore, there was a direct correlation between the extent of genetic influence on metastasis formation and the ability of the tumor cells to develop resistance to cisplatinum. Thus although nongenetic factors might predominate in contributing to metastasis formation, it is probably genetic variation and genetic instability that cause the progression of tumor cells to a more metastatic phenotype and leads to the emergence of drug resistance.

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Recommended Citation

Volpe, John P. G, "Inherited and noninherited sources of variation in metastasis and the growth rate of tumors: Implications for tumor evolution and therapy" (1989). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI8924470.