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Cancer Res. 1990 Jun 1;50(11):3193-8.

Molecular analysis of early growth-associated events during the differentiation of F9 cells into embryoid bodies.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Temple University School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19140.


Mouse F9 teratocarcinoma cell lines can be induced to differentiate into either parietal endoderm or embryoid bodies which contain visceral endoderm-like cells. The nature of the early molecular events involved in these two differentiation pathways has not yet been fully elucidated. Moreover, since the process of differentiation is often accompanied by changes in cell growth, it is often difficult to determine which of the events that do occur during the early stages of differentiation are a direct result of the process of differentiation and which events are indirect results that occur as a consequence of altered cell growth. In the experiments reported here we have attempted to distinguish between these two possibilities by examining the patterns of expression of a representative group of growth-associated genes (i.e., c-myc, p53, and histone H3) when F9 cell aggregates are induced to differentiate into embryoid bodies containing visceral endoderm. By analysis of the patterns of growth-associated gene expression in both retinoic acid treated and nontreated F9 cell aggregates, we were able to classify early events as differentiation-specific events (events which occurred only following retinoic acid treatment of aggregates) or nondifferentiation-specific events caused by reduction in cell growth (events which occurred even when aggregates were not treated with retinoic acid). Our results show that F9 cells differentiated into embryoid bodies containing visceral endoderm-like cell exhibit an early reduction in both growth and c-myc mRNAs which is neither retinoic acid-specific nor differentiation-specific. However, following this initial response to aggregation, constant levels of c-myc mRNA are maintained despite continued reduction in growth. Thus, it appears that alteration in c-myc expression is a differentiation-specific event along the pathway to formation of visceral endoderm. Interestingly, however, the nature and time course of this alteration in c-myc expression in F9 cells' differentiation into visceral endoderm is different from that observed in F9 cells differentiated into parietal endoderm.

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