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Abstract

The tumor stroma has significant effects on cancer cell growth and metastasis. Interactions between cancer and stromal cells shape tumor progression through poorly understood mechanisms. One factor regulating tumor growth is the circadian timing system that generates daily physiological rhythms throughout the body. Clock genes such as mPer1 serve in molecular timing events of circadian oscillators and when mutated can disrupt circadian rhythms and accelerate tumor growth. Stimulation of mPer1 by cytokines suggests that the timing of circadian oscillators may be altered by these tumor-derived signals. To explore tumor and stromal interactions, the pattern of mPer1 expression was imaged in tumors generated through subcutaneous injection of Lewis lung carcinoma (LLC) cells. Several imaging studies have used bioluminescent cancer cell lines expressing firefly luciferase to image tumor growth in live mice. In contrast, this study used non-bioluminescent cancer cells to produce tumors within transgenic mice expressing luciferase controlled by the mPer1 gene promoter. Bioluminescence originated only in host cells and was significantly elevated throughout the tumor stroma. It was detected through the skin of live mice or by imaging the tumor directly. No effects on the circadian timing system were detected during three weeks of tumor growth according to wheel-running rhythms. Similarly, no effects on mPer1 expression outside the tumor were found. These results suggest that mPer1 activity may play a localized role in the interactions between cancer and stromal cells. The effects might be exploited clinically by targeting the circadian clock genes of stromal cells.