Senkowski W, Jarvius M, Rubin J, Lengqvist J, Gustafsson MG, Nygren P, Kultima K, Larsson R, Fryknäs M
Cell Chem Biol 23 (11) 1428-1438 [2016-11-17; online 2016-10-27]
Cancer cell lines grown as two-dimensional (2D) cultures have been an essential model for studying cancer biology and anticancer drug discovery. However, 2D cancer cell cultures have major limitations, as they do not closely mimic the heterogeneity and tissue context of in vivo tumors. Developing three-dimensional (3D) cell cultures, such as multicellular tumor spheroids, has the potential to address some of these limitations. Here, we combined a high-throughput gene expression profiling method with a tumor spheroid-based drug-screening assay to identify context-dependent treatment responses. As a proof of concept, we examined drug responses of quiescent cancer cells to oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) inhibitors. Use of multicellular tumor spheroids led to discovery that the mevalonate pathway is upregulated in quiescent cells during OXPHOS inhibition, and that OXPHOS inhibitors and mevalonate pathway inhibitors were synergistically toxic to quiescent spheroids. This work illustrates how 3D cellular models yield functional and mechanistic insights not accessible via 2D cultures.
In Vitro and Systems Pharmacology