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
- Tumorigenic in mice: yes, but only with estrogen supplementation if engrafted into the subcutaneous fat or mammary fat pad
- Tumorigenic in mice without estrogen supplementation if engrafted intraductally
- 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.
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