We previously used rat ovarian surface epithelial cells subjected to repetitious growth in vitro to provide experimental evidence in support of a role for incessant ovulation in the etiology of ovarian cancer. We have now initiated a series of 30 independent rat ovarian surface epithelial cell lines. This report describes findings in eight of the cell lines that, based on tumor formation in athymic mice, have undergone malignant transformation. Each of the tumors exhibited chromosomal alterations. Two well to moderately differentiated tumors had only one or two cytogenetic changes, and they had in common the presence of numerical gains. Each of five poorly differentiated tumors had complex karyotypes with three to eight clonal aberrations, prominent among them being unbalanced rearrangements and numerical losses. Several poorly differentiated tumors also had marker chromosomes, double minutes, or homogeneously staining regions. These findings demonstrate that the malignant tumors produced by spontaneously transformed rat ovarian surface epithelial cell lines range in degree of differentiation, which is paralleled by the cytogenetic complexity. Thus, this model system may fill an important void in future efforts to define the genetic basis of common epithelial tumors of the ovary and many features characteristic of these neoplasms.

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Supported by National Cancer Institute Grants CA-56916 and CA-06927, by the Evy Lessin Fund, and by an appropriation from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

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