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Price JE. Wolf JK. Pathak S.
Department of Cell Biology, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX 77030, USA.
A human cancer cell line was found to be heterogeneous for expression of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). Clones and variants of this cell line were separated on the basis of EGFR expression level, and those expressing high EGFR had different growth characteristics, in vitro and in vivo, than variants expressing low levels of EGFR. Karyotype analysis revealed that the heterogeneity was the result of mixing of two lines, the 2774 ovarian cancer cell line, and the SW620 colon cancer cell line. Our results reinforce the necessity for accurate identification of cell lines. Also, that measurement of gene expression on a single cell level, for example by flow cytometric analysis, can be more informative than measurements of cell lysates, since the initial indication of heterogeneity would not have been detected by northern or western blotting. The different cell types retained characteristic growth patterns when injected i.p. in nude mice, i.e. peritoneal carcinomatosis and ascites formation by the 2774 ovarian cancer cells, and liver metastasis and growth of discrete abdominal tumors by the SW620 colon cancer.