Heterogeneous primary tumors contain subpopulations of cells that differ in ability to metastasize to specific host organs. We have used cryostat sections of host organs to select for metastatic variants of B16 melanoma cells with increased adhesion to specific syngeneic tissues. By repeating the selection procedure with lung tissue, a subpopulation of cells was isolated that demonstrated a specific increase in binding to cryostat sections of mouse lung. This altered binding was reflected by a sixfold increase in the frequency of lung metastasis 21 d after tail vein injection of the tumor cells. In contrast, B16 melanoma cells selected on cryostat sections of mouse brain showed no increase in adhesion to brain or lung tissue and the metastatic pattern in vivo was not significantly different compared with the parent cell line. When cells selected for increased adhesion to cryostat sections of lung were further examined in vitro, they showed altered morphology and increased motility but no change in growth rate. These results demonstrate that alterations in the adhesive interactions between metastatic tumor cells and a specific host tissue can directly affect the frequency of metastasis to that tissue in vivo.

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