Adriamycin (ADR)-resistant sublines of B16-BL6 mouse melanoma selected by exposure to increasing concentrations of ADR were characterized in vitro for growth properties and in vivo for tumorigenicity and pulmonary metastases. The progressively resistant sublines adapted to grow in the presence of 0.025, 0.05, 0.1, and 0.25 µg/ml ADR in monolayer culture were found to be 5-, 10-, 20-, and 40-fold ADR-resistant, respectively, compared to the parental sensitive cells, using a soft-agar colony assay and continuous ADR treatment for 7 days. The doubling time in monolayer culture of the parent sensitive and progressively ADR-resistant sublines of B16-BL6 melanoma cells was approximately 16–18 h. Although the colony-forming efficiency in soft agar of parental sensitive cells was only 0.5–4%, the 5-, 10-, 20-, and 40-fold ADR-resistant sublines had colony-forming efficiencies of 15, 20, 30, and 77%, respectively. Tumorigenicity in C57BL/6 mice of progressively ADR-resistant sublines was similar to parental sensitive cells following s.c. and i.p. implantation of 105–106 tumor cells. Experimental pulmonary metastases were significantly lower in ADR-resistant sublines with progressive resistance. Additionally, unlike the parental sensitive and 5-fold ADR-resistant B16-BL6 cells, the 10-, 20-, and 40-fold ADR-resistant sublines were spontaneously nonmetastatic. Sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and immunochemical detection of P-glycoprotein revealed the presence of a Mr 170,000 plasma membrane glycoprotein in the 40-fold ADR-resistant subline and its counterpart maintained for 1 year in ADR-free medium. Results from this study suggest that progressively ADR-resistant B16-BL6 mouse melanoma cells selected in vitro demonstrate a marked increase in colony formation in soft agar and a decrease in the ability to produce pulmonary metastases, without alterations in tumorigenicity.


Supported by USPHS Grant 1R01 CA35531 awarded by the National Cancer Institute, Department of Health and Human Services.

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