To allow investigations of the role of tumor cell proteases in invasion and metastasis, an attempt was made to obtain welldefined homogeneous populations of Lewis lung carcinoma cells differing widely in their metastatic potential. From a single Lewis lung carcinoma, a parental line of cells was established and subsequently cloned so as to provide 18 clonal tumor cell lines. These clones differed in their ability to produce spontaneous, macroscopically visible metastases in the lung after i.m. inoculation into syngeneic C57BL/6 mice. Several of them were less metastatic than the parental line. The parental line expressed a metastatic behavior close to that of the high-metastatic cell subpopulations that it contained. There was, within certain limits, a good correlation between the potential for spontaneous lung metastases arising from a primary tumor and that for “artificial” lung colonies obtained after i.v. injection of the Lewis lung carcinoma cells.
Although positively correlated with the growth rate of the tumor cells, the metastatic ability of the clones could not be considered as a mere reflection of the proliferation rates of the cells constituting the primary tumors. Differences in metastatic behavior observed among clones persisted in several cases after the cells had been maintained in culture for prolonged periods. However, this stability of the clones in vitro was not absolute. Indeed, some subclones isolated from the low-metastatic clone H122 displayed metastatic abilities which were lower than that of the parent clone. Furthermore, a significant increase in metastatic potential was once observed after a prolonged culture period of that same clone, H122. Thus, new metastatic phenotypes can emerged under in vitro culture conditions. However, the relative rarity of this event suggests that some metastatic heterogeneity already preexisted in vivo among the tumor cells.
Supported by grants from the Cancer Research Funds of the Caisse Générale d'Epargne et de Retraite, Brussels, and from the Belgian Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique Médicale.