Cell type of origin as well as genetic alterations contribute to breast cancer phenotypes

Divya Bhagirath, Xiangshan Zhao, William W. West, Fang Qiu, Hamid Band, Vimla Band

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Breast cancer is classified into different subtypes that are associated with different patient survival outcomes, underscoring the importance of understanding the role of precursor cell and genetic alterations in determining tumor subtypes. In this study, we evaluated the oncogenic phenotype of two distinct mammary stem/progenitor cell types designated as K5+/K19-or K5+/K19+ upon introduction of identical combinations of oncogenes-mutant H-Ras (mRas) and mutant p53 (mp53), together with either wild-type ErbB2(wtErbB2) or wild-type EGFR (wtEGFR). We examined their tumor forming and metastasis potential, using both in-vitro and invivo assays. Both the combinations efficiently transformed K5+/K19-or K5+/K19+ cells. Xenograft tumors formed by these cells were histologically heterogeneous, with variable proportions of luminal, basal-like and claudin-low type components depending on the cell types and oncogene combinations. Notably, K5+/K19-cells transformed with mRas/mp53/wtEGFR combination had a significantly longer latency for primary tumor development than other cell lines but more lung metastasis incidence than same cells expressing mRas/mp53/wtErbB2. K5+/K19+ cells exhibit shorter overall tumor latency, and high metastatic potential than K5+/K19-cells, suggesting that these K19+ progenitors are more susceptible to oncogenesis and metastasis. Our results suggest that both genetic alterations and cell type of origin contribute to oncogenic phenotype of breast tumors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9018-9030
Number of pages13
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2015


  • Breast cancer
  • Metastasis
  • Stem cells
  • Transformation
  • Xenograft

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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