A simple engineered platform reveals different modes of tumor-microenvironmental cell interaction

Chentian Zhang, Elizabeth M. Shenk, Laura C. Blaha, Byungwoo Ryu, Rhoda M. Alani, Mario Cabodi, Joyce Y. Wong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


How metastatic cancer lesions survive and grow in secondary locations is not fully understood. There is a growing appreciation for the importance of tumor components, i.e. microenvironmental cells, in this process. Here, we used a simple microfabricated dual cell culture platform with a 500 μm gap to assess interactions between two different metastatic melanoma cell lines (1205Lu isolated from a lung lesion established through a mouse xenograft; and WM852 derived from a stage III metastatic lesion of skin) and microenvironmental cells derived from either skin (fibroblasts), lung (epithelial cells) or liver (hepatocytes). We observed differential bi-directional migration between microenvironmental cells and melanoma, depending on the melanoma cell line. Lung epithelial cells and skin fibroblasts, but not hepatocytes, stimulated higher 1205Lu migration than without microenvironmental cells; in the opposite direction, 1205Lu cells induced hepatocytes to migrate, but had no effect on skin fibroblasts and slightly inhibited lung epithelial cells. In contrast, none of the microenvironments had a significant effect on WM852; in this case, skin fibroblasts and hepatocytes - but not lung epithelial cells - exhibited directed migration toward WM852. These observations reveal significant effects a given microenvironmental cell line has on the two different melanoma lines, as well as how melanoma effects different microenvironmental cell lines. Our simple platform thus has potential to provide complex insights into different strategies used by cancerous cells to survive in and colonize metastatic sites.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number015001
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 29 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • cancer
  • co-culture
  • in vitro model
  • metastasis
  • microenvironment
  • micropatterning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomaterials
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'A simple engineered platform reveals different modes of tumor-microenvironmental cell interaction'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this

    Zhang, C., Shenk, E. M., Blaha, L. C., Ryu, B., Alani, R. M., Cabodi, M., & Wong, J. Y. (2015). A simple engineered platform reveals different modes of tumor-microenvironmental cell interaction. Biofabrication, 8(1), [015001]. https://doi.org/10.1088/1758-5090/8/1/015001