The hybrid plasmid pK4 containing the early genes of the simian virus SV-40, under the control of the adenovirus type 5 E1a promoter, was introduced into the multipotent embryonal carcinoma (EC) 1003. Expression of the SV-40 oncogenes was observed at the EC cell stage, and this allowed the derivation of immortalized cells corresponding to early stages of differentiation. Among the immortalized mesodermal derivatives obtained, one clone, C1, is committed to the osteogenic pathway. C1 cells have a stable phenotype, synthesize type I collagen, and express alkaline phosphatase activity. Although immortalized and expressing the SV-40 T antigen, the cells continue to be able to differentiate in vivo and in vitro. In vivo, after injection into syngeneic mice, they produce osteosarcomas. In vitro, the cells form nodules and deposit a collagenous matrix that mineralizes, going to hydroxyapatite crystal formation, in the presence of beta-glycerophosphate. This clonal cell line, which originates from an embryonal carcinoma, therefore differentiates into osteogenic cells in vivo and in vitro. This immortalized cell line will be useful in identifying specific molecular markers of the osteogenic pathway, to investigate gene regulation during osteogenesis and to study the ontogeny of osteoblasts.

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