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Brain Res. 1993 Jun 25;615(1):27-40.

Target regulation of neuronal differentiation in a temperature-sensitive cell line derived from medullary raphe.

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Miami Project, University of Miami School of Medicine, FL 33136.


Following infection of dissociated embryonic day 13 rat medullary raphe cells with a retrovirus encoding the temperature-sensitive mutant of SV40 large T antigen, a clonal cell line, RN33B, was isolated by serial dilution. At 33 degrees C, RN33B cells divide with a doubling time of 48 h and show T antigen, vimentin, nestin, diffuse neuron-specific enolase, and low and medium molecular weight neurofilament immunoreactivities. RN33B cells are immortal, but not transformed, as they will not grow in soft agar. At non-permissive temperature (38.5 degrees C), T antigen expression is markedly decreased and RN33B cells cease mitotic activity and differentiate with phase bright cell bodies and 'neuritic-like' processes. Differentiated RN33B cells express enhanced neuronal-specific protein expression but do not synthesize astrocytic or oligodendrocytic-specific proteins. Moreover, differentiated RN33B cells returned to 33 degrees C re-express T antigen, but do not de-differentiate or begin dividing. Co-culture with embryonic hippocampus and cerebral cortex, but not medullary raphe or spinal cord, resulted in significantly greater survival, more complex neuronal morphology, and enhanced expression of neuronal-specific antigens. Immunohistochemical and Northern blot analysis revealed high levels of low affinity NGF receptor protein and mRNA in differentiated RN33B cells. PCR analysis demonstrated the presence of trkB, but not trkA or trkC, mRNA in both undifferentiated and differentiated RN33B cells. These data suggest that the observed target regulation of RN33B cell neuronal differentiation in co-culture may be mediated by neurotrophin(s).

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