A well-characterized SV40-transformed Swiss 3T3 line, SV101, and its revertants were tested for the ability to grow in reduced Ca++ (0.01 mM). Transformants and revertants did not differ from the parent 3T3 line in their Ca++ requirements. All three classes of cells grew less well in low Ca++ than in regular Ca++ (2.0 mM). SV40 transformants were then selected for the ability to grow in reduced Ca++. This new class of transformants was found to grow in 1% serum, grow in soft agarose, have a reorganized actin cytoskeleton, and express viral T antigens, as well as grow well in low Ca++. One of the selected clones was found to be T antigen-negative, yet was transformed in the serum, anchorage, actin, and Ca++ assays. It is possible that this clone was a spontaneous transformant. However, Southern blot analysis revealed the presence of integrated SV40 DNA. In addition, this analysis revealed the absence of an intact early region fragment, which codes for the viral T antigens. One explanation of this result may be that the mechanism of viral transformation for growth in low Ca++ involves viral-host DNA interactions that may not require a fully functional T antigen. In this case SV40 integration may be acting as a nonspecific cellular mutagen.

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