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Biochim Biophys Acta. 1989 Oct 30;1014(1):57-65.

Characterization of subclones of Madin-Darby canine kidney renal epithelial cell line.

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Department of Internal Medicine, School of Medicine, Keio University, Tokyo, Japan.


Heterogeneity in Madin-Darby canine kidney (MDCK) epithelial cells has been reported, however, its details have not been well described. In the present study, we show that subclones obtained from a MDCK cell line could be divided into two morphologically and biochemically distinct cell types with different hormonal responsiveness. Clones of the first type, motile clones, which had extended and flattened cytoplasm, were devoid of carbonic anhydrase activity. Clones of the second type, nonmotile clones, formed colonies of cuboidal cells and showed carbonic anhydrase activity. Motile clones synthesized cAMP in response to arginine vasopressin, prostaglandin E1, and isoproterenol but not glucagon. In contrast, nonmotile clones responded to all of these hormones. These findings suggest MDCK cells have multiple cellular origins. The motile clones have characteristics similar to the principal cells of the collecting system, whereas the nonmotile clones may be derived from the thick ascending limb or the intercalated cell. Our studies also demonstrate a significant influence of culture condition on MDCK cellular behavior (carbonic anhydrase activity, Na+/K+-ATPase activity and vasopressin responsiveness). Therefore, physiologic and biochemical experiments with MDCK cells must be interpreted with reservations about cellular heterogeneity as well as differences induced by culture conditions.

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