The phenotypic effects of selectively decreasing the levels of S100 beta in cultured glial cells were analyzed. Two separate antisense approaches were utilized for inhibition of S100 beta production: analysis of clonal isolates of rat C6 glioma cells containing an S100 beta antisense gene under the control of a dexamethasone-inducible promoter, and analysis of C6 cells treated with S100 beta antisense oligodeoxynucleotides. Both antisense methods resulted in a decrease in S100 beta levels in the cell, as measured by RIA. The inhibition of S100 beta production correlated with three alterations in cellular phenotype: (a) a flattened cell morphology; (b) a more organized microfilament network; and (c) a decrease in cell growth rate. The studies describe here provide direct evidence for an involvement of S100 beta in glial cell structure and function, and suggest potential in vivo roles for S100 beta in regulation of glial cell morphology, cytoskeletal organization, and cell proliferation.

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