The expression of cytokeratins (CKs) was investigated in cell lines and clones established from the rat 13762NF mammary adenocarcinoma tumor and its spontaneous lymph node and lung metastases. Two-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis of intermediate filament-enriched protein fractions from cultured cells revealed that clones established from spontaneous metastases contained three CKs (Mr ∼54,000, ∼52,000, and ∼40,000) characteristic of simple epithelia and two CKs (Mr ∼51,000 and ∼47,000) characteristic of stratified epithelia. CK expression varied qualitatively and quantitatively between the different metastasis-derived cell clones. In contrast, cell clones established from the original mammary fat pad tumor expressed low or undetectable levels of CKs. Western blot analyses with a panel of anti-CK antibodies with defined specificities confirmed the observations. One-dimensional polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis of whole-cell lysates and intermediate filament-enriched extracts were transferred and probed with the panel of antibodies. The relative expression of individual CKs varied according to the cell line or clone examined and environmental conditions (low versus high passage and in vitro versus in vivo growth), whereas the amount of total CKs expressed relative to total cell protein varied according to cell line or clone and growth conditions.

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