Quantitation of murine stroma and selective purification of the human tumor component of patient-derived xenografts for genomic analysis

Valentina E. Schneeberger, Viola Allaj, Eric E. Gardner, J. T. Poirier, Charles M. Rudin

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26 Scopus citations


Patient-derived xenograft (PDX) mouse models are increasingly used for preclinical therapeutic testing of human cancer. A limitation in molecular and genetic characterization of PDX tumors is the presence of integral murine stroma. This is particularly problematic for genomic sequencing of PDX models. Rapid and dependable approaches for quantitating stromal content and purifying the malignant human component of these tumors are needed. We used a recently developed technique exploiting species-specific polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplicon length (ssPAL) differences to define the fractional composition of murine and human DNA, which was proportional to the fractional composition of cells in a series of lung cancer PDX lines. We compared four methods of human cancer cell isolation: fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS), an immunomagnetic mouse cell depletion (MCD) approach, and two distinct EpCAM-based immunomagnetic positive selection methods. We further analyzed DNA extracted from the resulting enriched human cancer cells by targeted sequencing using a clinically validated multi-gene panel. Stromal content varied widely among tumors of similar histology, but appeared stable over multiple serial tumor passages of an individual model. FACS and MCD were superior to either positive selection approach, especially in cases of high stromal content, and consistently allowed high quality human-specific genomic profiling. ssPAL is a dependable approach to quantitation of murine stromal content, and MCD is a simple, efficient, and high yield approach to human cancer cell isolation for genomic analysis of PDX tumors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0160587
JournalPLoS One
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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