Repeated cycles of allylamine-induced aortic injury in vivo modulate the proliferative potential of smooth muscle cells (SMCs) during serial propagation in vitro. This modulation may be partly mediated by disturbances in polyphosphoinositide metabolism which afford allylamine-treated cells a growth advantage over control cells [Cox, Murphy and Ramos (1990) Exp. Mol. Pathol. 53, 52-63]. The present studies were conducted to further evaluate the mechanisms which mediate the enhanced proliferative potential of allylamine cells. Cellular growth and/or [3H]thymidine incorporation into DNA were evaluated in control and allylamine cells seeded on plastic culture dishes or glass coverslips in the presence of 0.1, 1 or 10% fetal bovine serum (FBS). On either substrate, incubation in 0.1% FBS for 48 h inhibited DNA synthesis in cultures of both cell types, but the inhibitory response was more pronounced in allylamine cells. Subsequent challenge with 10% FBS increased thymidine incorporation to a greater extent in allylamine cells. Interestingly, enhanced DNA synthesis of allylamine cells was associated with increased cell numbers only when seeded on a glass surface. The enhanced growth rate on glass was not due to increased plating efficiency since comparable attachment rates were observed for both cell types. Reseeding of control cells on glass substrates pre-coated by allylamine cells afforded control cells a growth advantage comparable with that observed for allylamine cultures. Conditioned media from growth-arrested, as well as cycling cultures, of allylamine cells stimulated DNA synthesis in cultures of either cell type to a greater extent than conditioned media from control counterparts. In addition, the responsiveness of allylamine cells to secreted products was enhanced relative to that of control cells. Metabolic labelling studies revealed that the synthesis and/or secretion of 52, 46, 33 and 28 kDa proteins was enhanced in allylamine cultures relative to controls, and that the expression of two proteins of 30 and 31 kDa only occurred in allylamine cultures. We conclude that the enhanced growth response of allylamine cells is associated with both altered protein secretion and differential extracellular matrix deposition.

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