Intratumor Heterogeneity (ITH) is a functionally important property of tumor tissue and may be involved in drug resistance mechanisms. Although descriptions of ITH can be traced back to very early reports about cancer tissue, mechanistic investigations are still limited by the precision of analysis methods and access to relevant tissue sources. PDX models have provided a reproducible source of tissue with at least a partial representation of naturally occurring ITH. We investigated the properties of phenotypically distinct cell populations by Fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS) tissue derived cells from multiple tumors from a triple negative breast cancer patient derived xenograft (PDX) model. We subsequently subjected each population to in depth gene expression analysis. Our findings suggest that process related gene expression changes (caused by tissue dissociation and FACS sorting) are restricted to Immediate Early Genes (IEGs). This allowed us to discover highly reproducible gene expression profiles of distinct cellular compartments identifiable by cell surface markers in this particular tumor model. Within the context of data from a previously published model our work suggests that gene expression profiles associated with hypoxia, stemness and drug resistance may reside in tumor subpopulations predictably growing in PDX models. This approach provides a novel opportunity for prospective mechanistic studies of ITH.
PLoS One (PloS one)
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