Characterization of lung adenocarcinoma in transgenic mice overexpressing calreticulin under control of the Tie-2 promoter
Calreticulin (CRT) is a multifunctional Ca2+ dependent chaperone protein, which is localized to the endoplasmic reticulum and plays many important biological roles. In addition to its critical role in cardiovascular development, CRT has been reported to be important for cell migration, adhesion and apoptosis. A few studies have also suggested different roles for exogenous CRT in angiogenesis and tumor growth however no direct evidence for the role of endogenous CRT in these processes is available. To study the in vivo role of CRT in angiogenesis and vascular development, we generated a transgenic mouse overexpressing CRT under the control of the Tie2 promoter (referred to as Tie2-CRT) which is active in both endothelial cells and hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). The main phenotype of these mice is an increased incidence of lung tumors. These tumors have been characterized according to their histochemical properties as being adenocarcinoma with a Surfactant Protein-C positive (SP-CPos) and Clara Cell Protein negative (CC10Neg) phenotype suggesting an alveolar origin for these tumors. We observed that during the early stages of tumor formation, the lungs show signs of increased inflammation as evidenced by congestion, reddish discoloration and the accumulation of inflammatory cells. We have also identified that the early stage tumors contain cells that express exogenous CRT and HSC markers including CD133, Sca-1, and c-Kit. As the tumor progresses to a fully developed adenocarcinoma, these cells lose the expression of exogenous CRT and HSCs markers and gain an alveolar type II phenotype (SP-CPos). In vitro evaluation of tumor progression using lung tumor cells from Tie2-CRT mice demonstrated a differentiation dependent expression of HSC markers by tumor cells supporting the hypothesis that HSCs might be the cells of origin for the lung tumors observed in Tie2-CRT mice. In summary, the results from this study provide evidence that lung tumors from the Tie2-CRT mice are non-epithelial in origin and that the undifferentiated population of tumor cells have HSC characteristics. After differentiation, these cells lose their stem cell phenotype and acquire an epithelial phenotype. This study is the first to examine the potential link between CRT and lung cancer development.
Molecular Biology, Lung Cancer, Transgenic mice, Calreticulin