Enhanced natural killer sensitivity with concomitant clonal selection for cells bearing homogeneously staining regions in the human melanoma cell line MeWo upon induction of differentiation with theophylline.
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Culture of the human melanoma cell line MeWo in the presence of 1 mM theophylline was associated with an increase in susceptibility to natural killer (NK)-mediated cytolysis. The phenomenon was detected as early as 72 hours after initiation of theophylline treatment, reaching maximum values at 3-4 weeks and remaining stable for longer than 3 months of testing, provided the cells were maintained in the presence of theophylline. The alteration in target sensitivity was selective for NK-mediated cytolysis, since other mechanisms of cell-mediated cytolysis, including antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity and monocyte-mediated and lectin-induced cytolysis, were comparable between untreated and treated cells. The enhanced susceptibility of theophylline-treated cultures to NK lysis, as compared to NK lysis susceptibility of untreated MeWo cells, was not significantly changed by pretreatment of effector lymphocytes with interferon. Evidence for differentiation in theophylline-treated cultures was obtained. In addition, however, cytofluorometric and karyologic analysis revealed the existence of two subpopulations of differing ploidy in the MeWo line. The hypodiploid, NK-sensitive subpopulation, bearing homogeneously staining regions on two chromosomes, could be selected by growth in theophylline. Therefore, selection of subpopulations in heterogeneous tumor cell lines by chemical inducers suggests an alternative and novel mechanism for enhancement of NK sensitivity.
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