Nonmetastatic tumor cells acquire metastatic properties following somatic hybridization with normal cells

P. De Baetselier, E. Roos, L. Brys, L. Remels, M. Gobert, D. Dekegel, S. Segal, M. Feldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Somatic cell hybridization between nonmetastatic tumor cells and normal cells of the lymphoreticular system results in hybrid cells manifesting metastatic properties of defined target organ specificity. Thus, fusion of the nonmetastatic BALB/c originated NSI plasmacytoma with C57BL B lymphocytes resulted in hybridomas, each of which were metastatic. Of 10 hybridomas, 7 generated metastases in the spleen and liver, whereas 3 generated liver metastases. The generation of liver metastases by hybridomas which homed to both spleen and liver, but not by those which homed to the liver only, was controlled by the spleen. The acquisition of metastatic properties via somatic cell fusion seems to represent a general principle, in which the normal partner determines the target organ specificity for the metastatic growth. Thus, fusion of SP2/O myeloma cells with syngeneic B lymphocytes also resulted in a hybrid cell metastasizing to the spleen and liver, yet a somatic hybrid between NSI and a macrophage or dendritic-like cell metastasized to the lung. Cell surface molecules encoded by the genome of the normal partner was demonstrated to control the target organ specificity: antibodies against MHC-encoded antigens of the normal B cell partner prevented the generation of metastases by hybridomas metastasizing to the spleen and liver, but not by those metastasizing to the liver only. This is in accordance with the function of MHC molecules on lymphocytes in controlling their homing to lymphoid organs. Hybridomas of T cell lymphomas also manifested metastatic properties. Analysis of the cell surface Thy-1 antigens of a hybridoma (DCH10), produced via somatic fusion between BW5145 lymphoma and a putative macrophage cell indicated that cells of liver metastases (DCH10-Li) generated by the hybrid cells might have undergone further somatic cell fusion in vivo with host (T?) cells. These cells have acquired new metastatic properties, generating metastases in spleen, liver and kidneys. In fact, even the inoculation of the parental BW lymphoma cells resulted in a case of liver metastasis (BW-Li). Such BW-Li cells, upon reinoculation, also generated metastases in the spleen, liver and kidneys. Analysis of the Thyl phenotype indicated that BW-Li cells may also have undergone somatic cell fusion in vivo with host (T?) cells, resulting in the acquisition of metastatic properties. The pattern of cell-cell interactions (adhesion, infiltration) with liver cell monolayers of BW-Li cells and of DCH10-Li (T-cell lymphomas) was identical, and differed from cells of liver metastases of the myeloma-B cell hybridomas which might be based on responses to liver growth signals. Accordingly, the morphology of liver metastases generated by the two categories of hybridomas was different. It appears therefore, that (a) the acquisition of metastatic properties following somatic cell fusion with normal lymphoreticular cells is of a general significance; (b) somatic cell fusion provides an experimental system for the analysis of molecular properties determining the acquisition of metastatic capability; and (c) it may also represent a mechanism for tumor progression in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-24
Number of pages20
JournalCancer and Metastasis Reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 1984
Externally publishedYes


  • metastasis
  • somatic hybridization
  • tumor progression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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