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J Vet Diagn Invest. 2003 Sep;15(5):399-406.

Identification of canine transmissible venereal tumor cells using in situ polymerase chain reaction and the stable sequence of the long interspersed nuclear element.

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  • 1Department of Veterinary Medicine, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan 106, ROC.


Canine transmissible venereal tumor (CTVT) is a unique tumor that can be transplanted across the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) barrier by viable tumor cells. In dogs, CTVT grows progressively for a few months and then usually regresses spontaneously. A long interspersed nuclear element (LINE) insertion is found specifically and constantly in the 5' end of the CTVT cell c-myc gene, outside the first exon. The rearranged LINE-c-myc gene sequence has been used with polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to diagnose CTVT. However, in CTVT cells, the total length of the inserted LINE gene is not constant. In this experiment, variation in the inserted LINE gene was studied to determine which parts of the LINE sequence can be used as primers to identify CTVT cells with in situ PCR (IS PCR). The LINE gene was inserted between the TATA boxes in the promoter region of c-myc. In CTVT cells, deletions of different lengths are frequent in this gene. However, the 550-bp segment at the 5' end of the LINE-c-myc gene was stable. Thus, primers were designed to cover the stable 0.55-kb segment from the 5' end outside the first exon of the c-myc gene to the 5' end of LINE gene stable segment. With these primers and IS PCR, individual CTVT cells in formalin-fixed tissue sections and CTVT cultures were identified. Cells from other canine tumors were negative for this gene. In addition, the CTVT-specific, 0.55-kb segment was not found in any spindle-shaped cells from progressive or regressive phase CTVT. The IS PCR technique also did not detect any positive spindle-shaped cells in CTVT cell cultures. Thus, fibroblastic terminal differentiation is less likely to be a mechanism for spontaneous regression of CTVT cells.

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