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Dev Biol. 1986 Feb;113(2):388-405.

Isolation and properties of rat cell lines morphologically intermediate between cultured mammary epithelial and myoepithelial-like cells.


The cloned cuboidal epithelial cell line Rat Mammary (Rama) 25 converts at low frequency in culture to elongated cells that possess some of the properties of myoepithelial cells; one such clonal cell line is termed Rama 29. Three morphologically intermediate clonal cell lines have been isolated from Rama 25 which form a morphological series in the order: Rama 25 cuboidal cells, Rama 25-Intermediate 2(I2), Rama 25-I1, Rama 25-I4, and Rama 29 elongated cells. This same order is largely maintained for increasing percentages of elongated cells, decreasing percentages of cuboidal cells, decreasing tubular structures on collagen gels, and increasing times of appearance of tumors in nude mice. The fully elongated cells fail to revert to cuboidal cells and to form tumors. Binding of antisera to epithelial-specific milk fat globule membranes and human keratin declines whereas binding of antisera to myoepithelial-associated laminin, vimentin, and Thy-1 increases in the cell lines in the same order. Similarly 7 polypeptides characteristic of elongated cells increase and 4 polypeptides characteristic of cuboidal cells decrease in the cell lines in the same way. Anti-actin serum binds equally to all cell lines grown on plastic, except for Rama 25-I4, where its binding is increased. Rama 25-I1 and Rama 25-I4 cells also give rise to anti-actin, anti-myoglobin, and phosphotungstic acid hematoxylin-staining giant, striated cells on collagen gels and in tumors that also have ultrastructural characteristics of skeletal muscle. Fresh elongated converts of Rama 25 bind appreciably more anti-actin serum than many of the clonal elongated cell lines such as Rama 29. Ultrastructural analysis confirms the gradual loss of epithelial characteristics and the acquisition of immature myoepithelial characteristics in the same sequence of cell lines. It is suggested that such a linear sequence of intermediate morphological states occurs between the Rama 25 cuboidal cells and the elongated myoepithelial-like cells in vitro, and that a similar morphological sequence may exist in terminal ductal structures in vivo.

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