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Patient-derived xenograft culture-transplant system for investigation of human breast cancer metastasis


Metastasis is a fatal disease where research progress has been hindered by a lack of authentic experimental models. Here, we develop a 3D tumor sphere culture-transplant system that facilitates the growth and engineering of patient-derived xenograft (PDX) tumor cells for functional metastasis assays in vivo. Orthotopic transplantation and RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) analyses show that PDX tumor spheres maintain tumorigenic potential, and the molecular marker and global transcriptome signatures of native tumor cells. Tumor spheres display robust capacity for lentiviral engineering and dissemination in spontaneous and experimental metastasis assays in vivo. Inhibition of pathways previously reported to attenuate metastasis also inhibit metastasis after sphere culture, validating our approach for authentic investigations of metastasis. Finally, we demonstrate a new role for the metabolic enzyme NME1 in promoting breast cancer metastasis, providing proof-of-principle that our culture-transplant system can be used for authentic propagation and engineering of patient tumor cells for functional studies of metastasis.

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