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Open Access Research article

Comparative analysis and integrative classification of NCI60 cell lines and primary tumors using gene expression profiling data

Huixia Wang14, Shuguang Huang2, Jianyong Shou3, Eric W Su1, Jude E Onyia1, Birong Liao1 and Shuyu Li1*

Author Affiliations

1 Integrative Biology, Lilly Research Laboratories, Eli Lilly and Company, Lilly Corporate Center, Indianapolis, IN 46285, USA

2 Global Discovery & Development Statistics, Lilly Research Laboratories, Eli Lilly and Company, Lilly Corporate Center, Indianapolis, IN 46285, USA

3 Cancer Discovery Research, Lilly Research Laboratories, Eli Lilly and Company, Lilly Corporate Center, Indianapolis, IN 46285, USA

4 Department of Statistics, North Carolina State University, 2501 Founders Drive, Raleigh NC 27695, USA

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BMC Genomics 2006, 7:166  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-7-166

Published: 3 July 2006

Abstract

Background

NCI60 cell lines are derived from cancers of 9 tissue origins and have been invaluable in vitro models for cancer research and anti-cancer drug screen. Although extensive studies have been carried out to assess the molecular features of NCI60 cell lines related to cancer and their sensitivities to more than 100,000 chemical compounds, it remains unclear if and how well these cell lines represent or model their tumor tissues of origin. Identification and confirmation of correct origins of NCI60 cell lines are critical to their usage as model systems and to translate in vitro studies into clinical potentials. Here we report a direct comparison between NCI60 cell lines and primary tumors by analyzing global gene expression profiles.

Results

Comparative analysis suggested that 51 of 59 cell lines we analyzed represent their presumed tumors of origin. Taking advantage of available clinical information of primary tumor samples used to generate gene expression profiling data, we further classified those cell lines with the correct origins into different subtypes of cancer or different stages in cancer development. For example, 6 of 7 non-small cell lung cancer cell lines were classified as lung adenocarcinomas and all of them were classified into late stages in tumor progression.

Conclusion

Taken together, we developed and applied a novel approach for systematic comparative analysis and integrative classification of NCI60 cell lines and primary tumors. Our results could provide guidance to the selection of appropriate cell lines for cancer research and pharmaceutical compound screenings. Moreover, this gene expression profile based approach can be generally applied to evaluate experimental model systems such as cell lines and animal models for human diseases.