Background: The MCF7 (ER+/HER2-), T47D (ER+/HER2-), BT474 (ER+/HER2+) and SKBR3 (ER-/HER2+) breast cancer cell lines are widely used in breast cancer research as paradigms of the luminal and HER2 phenotypes. Although they have been subjected to cytogenetic analysis, their chromosomal abnormalities have not been carefully characterized, and their differential cytogenetic profiles have not yet been established. In addition, techniques such as comparative genomic hybridization (CGH), microarray-based CGH and multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA) have described specific regions of gains, losses and amplifications of these cell lines; however, these techniques cannot detect balanced chromosomal rearrangements (e.g., translocations or inversions) or low frequency mosaicism. Results: A range of 19 to 26 metaphases of the MCF7, T47D, BT474 and SKBR3 cell lines was studied using conventional (G-banding) and molecular cytogenetic techniques (multi-color fluorescence in situ hybridization, M-FISH). We detected previously unreported chromosomal changes and determined the content and frequency of chromosomal markers. MCF7 and T47D (ER+/HER2-) cells showed a less complex chromosomal make up, with more numerical than structural alterations, compared to BT474 and SKBR3 (HER2+) cells, which harbored the highest frequency of numerical and structural aberrations. Karyotype heterogeneity and clonality were determined by comparing all metaphases within and between the four cell lines by hierarchical clustering. The latter analysis identified five main clusters. One of these clusters was characterized by numerical chromosomal abnormalities common to all cell lines, and the other four clusters encompassed cell-specific chromosomal abnormalities. T47D and BT474 cells shared the most chromosomal abnormalities, some of which were shared with SKBR3 cells. MCF7 cells showed a chromosomal pattern that was markedly different from those of the other cell lines. Conclusions: Our study provides a comprehensive and specific characterization of complex chromosomal aberrations of MCF7, T47D, BT474 and SKBR3 cell lines.The chromosomal pattern of ER+/HER2- cells is less complex than that of ER+/HER2+ and ER-/HER2+ cells. These chromosomal abnormalities could influence the biologic and pharmacologic response of cells. Finally, although gene expression profiling and aCGH studies have classified these four cell lines as luminal, our results suggest that they are heterogeneous at the cytogenetic level.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Medicine
- Molecular Biology
- Biochemistry, medical