The purpose of this study was to establish an in vitro model for tumor progression in colorectal carcinogenesis, by transforming the premalignant human colonic PC/AA adenoma cell line to the malignant phenotype. A rare clonogenic variant AA/C1 [colony-forming efficiency (CFE) on plastic of 1.05%] was isolated from the diploid PC/AA adenoma cell line (C. Paraskeva, S. Finerty, and S. Powell, Int. J. Cancer, 41: 908–912, 1988). AA/C1 was aneuploid and when treated with 1 mm sodium butyrate for 14 days gave rise to the AA/C1/SB cell line which had an increased CFE on plastic (6.13%) although the cells remained anchorage dependent and nontumorigenic. After exposure of these AA/C1/SB cells to the carcinogen N-methyl-N′-nitro-N-nitrosoguanidine an anchorage-independent cell line was isolated (AA/C1/SB10). On continuous in vitro passage, the CFE in agarose of AA/C1/SB10 has increased to 17.3% and the cells have become tumorigenic producing adenocarcinomas in athymic nude mice. AA/C1, AA/C1/SB, and AA/C1/SB10 cell lines have common chromosomal abnormalities including a pericentric inversion of chromosome 1 with deletion of part of the short arm and monosomy for chromosome 18. This in vitro progression provides the first reported experimental evidence for the adenoma to carcinoma sequence in the human colon, and the cytogenetic evidence suggests that it is relevant to in vivo carcinogenesis.

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This work was funded by the British Cancer Research Campaign.

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