A comprehensive molecular characterization of the pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor cell lines BON-1 and QGP-1

Kim B. Luley, Shauni B. Biedermann, Axel Künstner, Hauke Busch, Sören Franzenburg, Jörg Schrader, Patricia Grabowski, Ulrich F. Wellner, Tobias Keck, Georg Brabant, Sebastian M. Schmid, Hendrik Lehnert, Hendrik Ungefroren*

*Corresponding author for this work
1 Citation (Scopus)


Experimental models of neuroendocrine tumor disease are scarce, with only a few existing neuroendocrine tumor cell lines of pancreatic origin (panNET). Their molecular characterization has so far focused on the neuroendocrine phenotype and cancer-related mutations, while a transcription-based assessment of their developmental origin and malignant potential is lacking. In this study, we performed immunoblotting and qPCR analysis of neuroendocrine, epithelial, developmental endocrine-related genes as well as next-generation sequencing (NGS) analysis of microRNAs (miRs) on three panNET cell lines, BON-1, QGP-1, and NT-3. All three lines displayed a neuroendocrine and epithelial phenotype; however, while insulinoma-derived NT-3 cells preferentially expressed markers of mature functional pancreatic β-cells (i.e., INS, MAFA), both BON-1 and QGP-1 displayed high expression of genes associated with immature or non-functional β/δ-cells genes (i.e., NEUROG3), or pancreatic endocrine progenitors (i.e., FOXA2). NGS-based identification of miRs in BON-1 and QGP-1 cells revealed the presence of all six members of the miR-17–92 cluster, which have been implicated in β-cell function and differentiation, but also have roles in cancer being both oncogenic or tumor suppressive. Notably, both BON-1 and QGP-1 cells expressed several miRs known to be negatively associated with epithelial–mesenchymal transition, invasion or metastasis. Moreover, both cell lines failed to exhibit migratory activity in vitro. Taken together, NT-3 cells resemble mature functional β-cells, while both BON-1 and QGP-1 are more similar to immature/non-functional pancreatic β/δ-cells or pancreatic endocrine progenitors. Based on the recent identification of three transcriptional subtypes in panNETs, NT-3 cells resemble the “islet/insulinoma tumors” (IT) subtype, while BON-1 and QGP-1 cells were tentatively classified as “metastasis-like/primary” (MLP). Our results provide a comprehensive characterization of three panNET cell lines and demonstrate their relevance as neuroendocrine tumor models.

Original languageEnglish
Article number691
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 01.03.2020

Research Areas and Centers

  • Research Area: Luebeck Integrated Oncology Network (LION)


Dive into the research topics of 'A comprehensive molecular characterization of the pancreatic neuroendocrine tumor cell lines BON-1 and QGP-1'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this