Membranes isolated from normal spleen cells or lymphoid tumor cells were found to inhibit in vitro growth of several murine tumor cell lines including a B cell hybridoma, a thymoma, and a mastocytoma. 50% inhibition occurred at membrane protein concentrations of 60-100 micrograms/ml. A similar concentration dependence was found for inhibition of [3H]-thymidine incorporation by tumor cells and for the lipopolysaccharide-induced mitogenic response of normal spleen cells. The inhibitory activity co-purified with the plasma membrane upon fractionation of crude membranes. Membrane solubilization with deoxycholate followed by dialysis to remove the detergent gave good recovery of inhibitory activity in the resulting reconstituted membranes. Membrane-mediated growth inhibition resulted from a decreased rate of proliferation and not from increased cell death. A toxic effect of the membranes was further ruled out by the finding that increasing the fetal calf serum content of the medium could substantially reverse the growth inhibition. Thus, the plasma membrane of lymphoid cells contains a component that can slow or stop the growth of cells in culture. This membrane component may have a role in cell contact-mediated regulation of growth.

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