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Cancer Cell death Cell cycle Cytoskeleton Exo/endocytosis Differentiation Division Organelles Signalling Stem cells Trafficking
Cell Biology International (2012) 36, 99–103 (Printed in Great Britain)
Functional heterogeneity of non-small lung adenocarcinoma cell sub-populations
Iga Bechyne, Katarzyna Szpak, Zbigniew Madeja and Jarosław Czyż1
Department of Cell Biology, Faculty of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Biotechnology, Jagiellonian University, Cracow, Poland

The morphological and functional heterogeneity of solid tumour cells can be observed in cancer cell lines cultured in vitro. We have combined analyses of microclones developed from single cells with micropore transmigration assays to demonstrate the co-existence of cellular subsets differing in morphology and motile activity, as well as Cx43 (connexin 43) and N-cadherin expression within lung carcinoma A549 populations. ‘Fibroblastoid’ cells, characterized by high motility, polarized morphology and plasmalemmal localization of Cx43, displayed the strongest aptitude for transmigration through narrow obstacles. Due to high mitotic activity, they maintain the whole population but can also give rise to a sub-population of quiescent and immobile ‘epithelioid’ cells. Our observations indicate that phenotypic transitions between the fibroblastoid and epithelioid phenotype account for the heterogeneity of metastable A549 cell populations.

Key words: connexin 43 (Cx43), invasion, lung, lung cancer, metastability

Abbreviations: Cx43, connexin 43, EMT, epithelial–mesenchymal transition, NA, numerical aperture; TLCD, total length of cell displacement

1To whom correspondence should be addressed (email

Received 18 March 2011/20 July 2011; accepted 13 September 2011

Published as Cell Biology International Immediate Publication 13 September 2011, doi:10.1042/CBI20110151

© The Author(s) Journal compilation © 2012 Portland Press Limited

ISSN Print: 1065-6995
ISSN Electronic: 1095-8355
Published by Portland Press Limited on behalf of the International Federation for Cell Biology (IFCB)