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Brain Res. 1991 Jun 21;552(1):67-76.

Immortalization of embryonic mesencephalic dopaminergic neurons by somatic cell fusion.

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Department of Pharmacological and Physiological Sciences, University of Chicago, IL 60637.


To facilitate the study of trophic interactions between mesencephalic dopaminergic neurons and their target cells, clonal hybrid cell lines have been developed from rostral mesencephalic tegmentum (RMT) of the 14-day-old embryonic mouse employing somatic cell fusion techniques. Among the hybrid cell lines obtained, one contains a high level of dopamine (DA), another predominantly 3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA), and a third no detectable catecholamines. The hybrid nature of the cell lines is supported by karyotype analysis and by the expression of adhesion molecules as assessed by aggregation in rotation-mediated cell culture. The DA cell line shows neuronal properties including catecholamine-specific histofluorescence, neurite formation with immunoreactivity to neurofilament proteins, and large voltage-sensitive sodium currents with the generation of action potentials. In contrast to the pheochromocytoma cell line (PC12), the dopamine content of the DA hybrid cell line is depleted by low concentrations of N-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium ion (MPP+), the active metabolite of the neurotoxin N-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP).

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