Transformation of NIH/3T3 cells by Kirsten murine sarcoma virus (MSV) caused a dramatic reduction in the number of cell-surface receptors for epidermal growth factor (EGF). However, the number of EGF receptors remained at a very low level in a non-tumourigenic revertant cell line isolated from the virus-transformed cells, indicating that an increase in EGF receptors is not a requirement for the phenotypic reversion of Kirsten MSV-transformed 3T3 cells. Serum-free conditioned medium from normal and virus-transformed cell lines contained similar amounts of cell growth-promoting activity as assayed by the ability to stimulate DNA synthesis in quiescent Swiss 3T3 cell cultures. However, the concentrated conditioned medium from these cell lines showed no evidence of beta-transforming growth factor (TGF) activity as assayed by promotion of anchorage-independent growth of untransformed normal rat kidney (NRK) fibroblasts in agarose. The cellular release of alpha-TGF activity was assayed by measuring the ability of concentrated conditioned medium to inhibit the binding of 125I-EGF to Swiss 3T3 cells. Conditioned medium protein from the virus-transformed cell line inhibited 125I-EGF binding but only to the same extent as conditioned medium protein prepared from the untransformed cell line. The alpha-TGF secretion by these cell lines was estimated to be 30-45-fold lower than the level of alpha-TGF released by a well-characterized alpha-TGF-producing cell line (3B11). These results suggest that the induction of TGF release is not a necessary event in the transformation of NIH/3T3 cells by Kirsten MSV.

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