Rous sarcoma virus-transformed hamster BHK fibroblasts express a virus-induced cell surface antigen undetectable in cells either transformed by unrelated viruses or infected by transformation-defective strains of Rous sarcoma virus. To clarify whether this antigen plays any role in the process of malignant transformation or is expressed at the cell surface only as a consequence of the acquisition of the transformed phenotype, we have investigated its expression at the cell surface of Rous sarcoma virus-transformed BHK cells treated with dibutyryl cyclic adenosine 3′:5′-monophosphate and at the surface of parental BHK cells transiently transformed by the tumor promoter phorbol myristate acetate. In the dibutyryl cyclic adenosine 3′:5′-monophosphate-treated cells, in which most of the parameters of the transformed phenotype are reverted to normality, but the product of the transforming gene is still present, virus-induced cell surface antigen is expressed. In the mirror experiment, this antigen is not expressed by phenotypically transformed but genetically normal phorbol myristate acetate-treated cells. It is concluded that the tumor membrane antigen studied is intimately associated with the expression of the function(s) controlled by the transforming gene.
Supported by the Progetto Finalizzato Virus, Sottoprogetto Virus Oncogeni, of the Italian National Research Council.