MCF-7 is a breast cancer cell line isolated in 1970 from a 69-year-old Caucasian woman. MCF-7 is the acronym of Michigan Cancer Foundation-7, referring to the institute in Detroit where the cell line was established in 1973 by Herbert Soule and co-workers. The Michigan Cancer Foundation is now known as the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute.
Prior to MCF-7, it was not possible for cancer researchers to obtain a mammary cell line that was capable of living longer than a few months.
The patient, Frances Mallon died in 1970. Her cells were the source of much of current knowledge about breast cancer. At the time of sampling, she was a nun in the convent of Immaculate Heart of Mary in Monroe, Michigan under the name of Sister Catherine Frances.
MCF-7 and two other breast cancer cell lines, named T-47D and MDA-MB-231, account for more than two-thirds of all abstracts reporting studies on mentioned breast cancer cell lines, as concluded from a Medline-based survey.
Characteristics of MCF-7 cells
- Primary tumor: invasive breast ductal carcinoma
- Origin of cells: pleural effusion
- Presence of estrogen receptors: yes
- Proliferative response to estrogens: yes
- Presence of progesterone receptors: yes
- ERBB2 gene amplification (with Her2/neu protein overexpression): no
- Tumorigenicity in mice: yes, but only with estrogen supplementation
- Phenotype: luminal epithelial
This cell line retained several characteristics of differentiated mammary epithelium, including the ability to process estradiol via cytoplasmic estrogen receptors and the capability of forming domes.
PIK3CA helical mutations were identified in MCF-7, but with low AKT activation.
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