Lineage infidelity of MDA-MB-435 cells: Expression of melanocyte proteins in a breast cancer cell line

Shankar Sellappan, Rebecca Grijalva, Xiaoyan Zhou, Wentao Yang, Menashe Bar Eli, Gordon B. Mills, Dihua Yu

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    128 Scopus citations


    The origin of cell lines is critical in defining cell type-specific biological functions. Several reports (D. T. Ross et al., Nat Genet 2000;24:227-35; G. Ellison et al., J Clin Pathol Mol Pathol 2002;55:294-9) suggested that the MDA-MB-435 cell line, a cell line extensively used for studying breast cancer biology, has a gene expression pattern most compatible with melanocyte origin. However, we demonstrate that MDA-MB-435 cells express breast-specific or epithelial-specific markers. Also, MDA-MB-435 cells were induced to express breast differentiation-specific proteins and secrete milk lipids as observed in other well-established breast cancer cell lines. Notably, MDA-MB-435 cells also expressed melanocyte-specific proteins as did another highly aggressive breast cancer cell line. MDA-MB-435 xenograft tissue sections stained entirely positive for epithelium-specific markers but only partially positive for melanocyte-specific markers. Thus, MDA-MB-435 is most likely a breast epithelial cell line that has undergone lineage infidelity.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)3479-3485
    Number of pages7
    JournalCancer Research
    Issue number10
    StatePublished - May 15 2004


    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Oncology
    • Cancer Research

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