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Circulation. 1995 Dec 1;92(11):3289-96.

Vascular smooth muscle cells of H-2Kb-tsA58 transgenic mice. Characterization of cell lines with distinct properties.

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Institute of Molecular Biology, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Salzburg, Austria.



The vascular wall is composed of at least two different populations of smooth muscle cells that are distinct in their structure and protein composition. According to the developmental stage of tissue taken for culture, the ratio between cells of epithelioid phenotype and spindle-shaped cells is variable. In particular, the epithelioid cells display characteristic features associated with immaturity. Because their increased appearance can be observed in endothelial denudation, the represent a dedifferentiated, proliferative smooth muscle cell type with a repair function in vascular injury.


To investigate this cellular heterogeneity, we established vascular smooth muscle cell lines from H-2Kb-tsA58 transgenic mice. Due to temperature-sensitive expression of the SV 40 large T-antigen in cells derived from this mouse strain, our smooth muscle lines were conditionally immortalized from the onset of their life in culture. Thus, we were able to clone cell lines representing the two different phenotypes described so far. Epithelioid cells derived from newborn animals are characterized by their expression of cytokeratins and the development of tight junctional complexes. Spindle-shaped cells, which could be isolated from newborn or adult animals, corresponded in phenotype and protein expression to smooth muscle cell lines established previously.


The special properties of vascular smooth muscle cells of the epithelioid phenotype suggest an endothelial replacement function in the course of injury to the vascular wall.

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