Life and Medical Sciences
Cell & Developmental Biology
Wiley InterScience Backfile Collection 1832-2000
Cell lines were established from rabbit articular chondrocytes following transfection with a plasmid encoding SV40 early function genes. This resulted in cell immortalization (130 passages have been completed for the oldest cell line) with acquisition of characteristics of partial transformation such as reduced serum requirements for normal and clonal growth. The immortalized chondrocytes, called SVRAC, did not form multilayer foci when maintained in postconfluent culture. Their ability to form colonies in soft agar was not increased in comparison with normal chondrocytes, but they were weakly tumorigenic in nude mice. SVRAC lost the ability to synthesize type II collagen and Alcian blue-stainable matrix, which are markers of the differentiated chondrocyte phenotype, and synthesized predominantly type I collagen. Studies of collagen gene expression showed that proα1 (II) mRNA was undetectable, whereas proα1 (I) collagen mRNA was expressed even in late passage cultures. Unlike normal dedifferentiated chondrocytes, SVRAC were unable to re-express the differentiated phenotype in response to tridimensional culture or microfilament depolymerization. Cell lines obtained from chondrocytes transfected either in primary culture or just after release of cells from cartilage displayed the same behaviour. Thus SV40 early genes were able to immortalize rabbit articular chondrocytes, but the resulting cell lines displayed an apparently irreversibly dedifferentiated phenotype. These cell lines can be used as models to identify regulatory pathways that are required for the maintenance or reexpression of differentiated function in chondrocytes.
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