Journal of the National Cancer Institute vol:67 issue:3 pages:719-28
Cells from low-passage (LP) cultures of a mouse mammary epithelial line (NMuMG cells) form a basal lamina when they are cultured on a type I collagen gel substratum. A high-passage (HP) strain of this line maintained the morphologic, serologic, and karyologic properties of the LP cells. For the determination of whether transformation of the NMuMG cells might lead to defects in the basal lamina, cells from LP cultures were compared in vivo and in vitro with cells of HP cultures for tumorigenicity, growth characteristics, and ability to form a lamina. The LP NMuMG cells had a typical epithelial morphology and showed no cytologic evidence of cancer. They formed an ultrastructurally normal continuous basal lamina in vivo when they were injected into athymic nude mice. In contrast, the HP cells were pleomorphic and highly invasive when injected into nude mice where they showed frequent and large basal lamina defects. These cells also accumulated only traces of lamina-like materials when cultured on a collagen gel, indicating that neoplastic transformation had markedly reduced the ability of NMuMG cells to form a basal lamina both in vivo and in vitro. Because the collagen gel culture system duplicated the in vivo situation with regard to basal lamina integrity, the basis for this lack of in vitro basal lamina formation may be physiologically relevant for the mechanism of malignant invasion.