Rat cerebral microvascular endothelial cells were infected with Schmidt-Ruppin Rous sarcoma virus-strain D (SR-RSV-D), an avian retrovirus. A single focus of transformed cells was isolated and the resultant cell line designated RCE-T1. The specificity for SR-RSV-D transformation was determined by virus rescue assay and demonstration of virus-specific antigens. RCE-T1 cells are virogenic when fused with chicken embryo fibroblasts (CEF) and do not produce infectious virus as demonstrated by the absence of detectable virus in culture fluid from these cells alone. Studies using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for avian retrovirus-coded internal proteins show that RSV-transformed endothelial cells contain mainly p27 and react to some extent to p19 and p15 viral antigens. These data demonstrate conclusively that the transformation event was indeed due to SR-RSV-D. In addition, chromosome analysis confirmed these cells to be of rat origin. RSV-transformed endothelial cells express the typical array of transformation-related properties such as anchorage-independent cell growth in soft agar, decreased cell adhesiveness, ability to grow in low serum, and capability of producing tumors in newborn rats. Demonstration of differentiated endothelial characteristics included positive immunofluorescent staining for factor VIII antigen and angiotensin-converting enzyme and histochemical localization of gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase activity. This cell line should provide a useful model to study not only specialized biochemical and other functional characteristics of cerebrovascular endothelium but also the cellular mechanisms that involve the transition from normal to neoplastic expression.

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