Three cell lines of mature T cell origin derived from patients with cutaneous T cell lymphoma-leukemias (CTCL) were found to be constitutive producers of T cell growth factor (L-TCGF). These are the first reported human cell lines which constitutively produce TCGF. Biologically active TCGF could also be eluted from the surface of these cells using an acid glycine buffer under conditions that maintained cell viability, and subcellular fractionation showed that almost all the TCGF activity was associated with the plasma membrane. Over 30 other human hematopoietic cell lines derived from other disorders were unable to produce TCGF even after induction, and their acid eluates did not contain TCGF activity. L-TCGF from CTCL lines had the same biological activity as TCGF obtained from normal leukocytes (N-TCGF) in that they both supported the long-term growth of normal T cells only after the cells were previously activated by antigen or lectin. Both L-TCGF and N-TCGF increased the rate of proliferation of TCGF-independent and TCGF-dependent CTCL cell lines. The same three factor-independent cell lines that released TCGF adsorbed TCGF in a cell-concentration, time-, and temperature-dependent manner. Since the CTCL cell lines produce TCGF, adsorb TCGF, and increase their proliferative rate in response to TCGF or a related molecule, it is suggested that this endogenously produced factor plays a role in maintaining the abnormal proliferation of these cells in culture as permanently growing cell lines independent of exogenous TCGF. However, this does not mean that this is an essential aspect of neoplastic transformation. Since it is unusual to develop these cell lines in the absence of the continuous need for added TCGF, "autostimulation" may be one of the many unusual variant phenotypic properties sometimes associated with neoplastic cells that gives them a selective advantage for in vitro growth.

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