Epithelial Polarity, Villin Expression, and Enterocytic Differentiation of Cultured Human Colon Carcinoma Cells: A Survey of Twenty Cell Lines

Isabelle Chantret, Alain Barbat, Elisabeth Dussaulx, Michael G. Brattain, Alain Zweibaum

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372 Scopus citations


Twenty human colon carcinoma cell lines were studied for their ability to develop some of the characteristics of the normal intestinal epithelium, e.g., epithelial polarity, presence of the acdn-binding protein villin, or the occurrence of an enterocytic differentiation either when cultured under standard conditions, as for Caco-2 cells, or when grown in a glucose-free medium, as for HT-29 cells. Except for the regular presence of villin, which can be considered a marker of the colonic origin of the cells, the cell lines of this study could be classified into four types with regard to their differentiation characteristics. In type 1 (only one cell line, i.e., Caco-2) the cells undergo spontaneously an enterocytic differentiation characterized by a polarization of the cell layer with the formation of domes and the presence of an apical brush border the membrane of which is endowed with hydrolases such as sucrase-isomaltase, lactase, aminopeptidase N, dipeptidylpeptidase IV and alkaline phosphatase. In type 2 (three cell lines: HT-29, HCT-EB, and HCT-GEO) the cells are undifferentiated when grown in the presence of glucose but undergo an enterocytic differentiation when grown in the absence of glucose. In type 3 (eight cell lines: HCT-GLY, HCT-FET, HCT-FRI, HCT-CBS, HCT-ALA, Co-115, HRT-18, and SW-1116) the cells are organized into a polarized monolayer with the formation of domes but without any enterocytic differentiation characteristics, whatever the culture conditions. In type 4 (eight cell lines: HCT-116a, HCT-R, HCT-RCA, HCT-Moser, HCT-8R, SW-480, LS-174T, and Vaco-9P) the cells are organized into a multilayer without any feature of epithelial polarity or enterocytic differentiation, whatever the culture conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1936-1942
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 1988


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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