We have analysed the effects of oncogenic transformation on the expression of type VI collagen in mesenchymal cells. Synthesis of type VI collagen was almost completely inhibited in fibroblasts transformed by DNA or RNA tumour viruses or in cells derived from spontaneous mesenchymal tumours. Inhibition of type VI collagen synthesis appears, therefore, to be a common phenomenon of transformed mesenchymal cells. When introduced into normal cells by viral vectors, the ‘nuclear’ oncogene v-myc had an inhibitory effect similar to that of the ‘cytoplasmic’ oncogene v-src. Fibroblasts infected with a temperature-sensitive strain of Rous sarcoma virus (NY68) produced type VI collagen at the restrictive, but not at the permissive temperature. If such cells were shifted from the permissive to the restrictive temperature, synthesis of the individual subunits of type VI collagen was co-ordinately induced. These results demonstrate that the activity of a single oncogene product is sufficient to inhibit type VI collagen expression.

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