A human parotid gland adenocarcinoma cell line, with an intercalated duct cell phenotype of the salivary gland and expression of vasoactive intestinal polypeptide and amylase, was cultivated in the presence of dibutyryl cyclic adenosine 3′,5′-monophosphate (dB-cAMP). Morphological changes occurred; cells formed long cytoplasmic processes densely packed with ample microfibrils, as well as microtubules, and grew in a netlike appearance. In addition, it has been found by the immunofluorescence staining technique, immunoblotting, or immunoelectron microscopy that the cells treated with dB-cAMP express neurofilaments, neuronspecific enolase, synaptophysin, and HNK-1 antigen, as well as the α- and β-chains of tubulin, whereas these antigens are not detected in untreated cells. The expression of vasoactive intestinal polypeptide detected diffusely in the cytoplasm of untreated cells was restricted to the cell membranes during the cultivation of cells in the presence of dB-cAMP, while expression of amylase persisted in the treated cells in a fashion similar to that in untreated cells. Moreover, both anchorage-independent and anchorage-dependent growth of the cells was markedly suppressed in the presence of dB-cAMP. After removal of dB-cAMP from the culture, the treated cells returned rapidly to the phenotype and growth rate of the untreated cells. These findings indicate that reversible conversion into cells with phenotypic features of neuronal cells of a human parotid adenocarcinoma cell line occurs in growth medium containing dB-cAMP.

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This investigation was supported in part by Grants-in-Aid for Cancer Research and for Scientific Research from the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture of Japan.

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