Transformed human bronchial epithelial cells (beas-2b) alter the growth and morphology of normal human bronchial epithelial cells in vitro
The in vivo growth behavior and invasive potential of normal and "immortalized" human bronchial epithelial cells were studied by xenotransplantation procedures, an in vitro assay of invasiveness, and determinations of type IV collagenase activity and mRNA expression. BEAS-2B cells, immortalized after hybrid virus infection (adenovirus 12-simian virus 40), reconstituted a columnar epithelium when xenotransplanted into de-epithelialized rat tracheas transplanted sc into athymic BALB/c mice. A few adenomatous growths could be seen 16 weeks after transplantation. BZR cells, obtained by transfer of the v-Ha-ras oncogene into BEAS-2B cells, were tumorigenic in this xenotransplantation model. BZR-T33 cells, obtained from a tumor produced after injection of BZR cells, were also tumorigenic; however, they exhibited a shorter latent period. When these same cell lines were injected sc and iv into athymic BALB/c mice, BEAS-2B cells were not tumorigenic, and the BZR-T33 cells were more tumorigenic than the BZR cells. The incidence of spontaneous metastases after sc inoculation was zero for BEAS-2B cells, 33% for BZR cells, and 100% for BZR-T33 cells. Similar increasing values that correlated well with the data on in vivo growth were noted in the in vitro invasion assay, the collagenolytic ability, and the mRNA expression of type IV collagenase. Normal human bronchial epithelial cells showed the lowest values in all the assays. These progressive changes occurring in cells derived from the same parental line indicate that the presence of the v-Ha-ras oncogene in immortalized bronchial cells is associated with a full-fledged malignant phenotype, which is further enhanced by in vivo passaging.