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Mol Carcinog. 1988;1(3):151-60.

Neoplastic transformation of a human bronchial epithelial cell line by a recombinant retrovirus encoding viral Harvey ras.

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Division of Cancer Etiology, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, Maryland 20892.


Activated ras oncogenes have previously been implicated in the pathogenesis of human lung carcinomas. A v-Ha-ras-containing retrovirus, Zip-ras, was generated by inserting the coding region of the v-Ha-ras oncogene into the Zip-NeoSV(X) [Cepko et al., Cell 37:1053-1062, 1984] retroviral vector. Amphotrophic Zip-ras retrovirus was used to infect an SV40 large T antigen-positive immortalized cell line, BEAS-2B, derived from normal bronchial epithelial cells, the predominant progenitor cells of human lung carcinomas. Zip-ras-infected BEAS-2B cells selected for G418 resistance formed anaplastic carcinomas in 12 of 15 athymic nude mice (latency 3 wk), whereas Zip-NeoSV(X)-infected BEAS-2B control cultures inoculated into 12 nude mice formed no tumors after a minimum of 7 mo. Tumor cell lines were established and demonstrated to be of human epithelial origin and to express v-Ha-ras p21 protein. A common feature of the tumor cell lines was an increase in ploidy. The increased efficiency of neoplastic transformation by v-Ha-ras of cell lines as compared with our previous results with normal bronchial epithelial cells [Yoakum et al., Science 227:1174-1179, 1985] is consistent with the hypothesis that the "immortalization" step is rate-limiting in in vitro human epithelial cell carcinogenesis.

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