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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1987 Nov;84(22):7972-6.

The regulated expression of erythropoietin by two human hepatoma cell lines.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Division of Hematology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA.


The development of a cell culture system that produces erythropoietin (Epo) in a regulated manner has been the focus of much effort. We have screened multiple renal and hepatic cell lines (including MDCK, LLC-PK1, BHK, WRL 68, CLCL, A704, CRFK, A498, ACHN, TCMK-1, LLC-MK2, CaKi-2, HepG2, and Hep3B) for either constitutive or regulated expression of Epo. Only the human hepatoma cell lines, Hep3B and HepG2, made significant amounts of Epo as measured both by radioimmunoassay and in vitro bioassay (as much as 330 milliunits per 10(6) cells in 24 hr). The constitutive production of Epo increased dramatically as a function of cell density in both cell lines. At cell densities less than 3.3 X 10(5) cells per cm2, there was little constitutive release of Epo in the medium (less than 30 milliunits per 10(6) cells in 24 hr). With Hep3B cells grown at low cell densities, a mean 18-fold increase in Epo expression was seen in response to hypoxia and a 6-fold increase was observed in response to incubation in medium containing 50 microM cobalt(II) chloride. At similar low cell densities, Epo production in HepG2 cells could be enhanced an average of about 3-fold by stimulation with either hypoxia or cobalt(II) chloride. Upon such stimulation, both cell lines demonstrated markedly elevated levels of Epo mRNA. Hence, both Hep3B and HepG2 cell lines provide an excellent in vitro system in which to study the physiological regulation of Epo expression.

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