Somatic cell fusion between cytolytically active, T cell growth factor- (TCGF) dependent murine T cell lines (CTL lines) and noncytolytic, TCGF-independent murine T lymphoma lines has yielded two types of somatic cell hybrids (5): cytolytic hybrids, growth of which is dependent on TCGF, and hybrids with very weak or undetectable cytolytic activity which grow at the same rate with or without TCGF. Here we report that the former can produce stable variants that resemble the latter type. Some of these TCGF-independent variants still have TCGF receptors. High susceptibility to the cytotoxic effects of Vicia villosa lectin, a marker distinguishing the parental CTL lines from T lymphomas, is expressed by the TCGF-dependent hybrids but not by the TCGF-independent variants. The two types of hybrids also differ in the expression of surface glycoproteins. We propose that there exists a genetic element in the CTL line that represses the TCGF-independent replication mechanism of the T lymphoma parent in the TCGF-dependent hybrids and that this genetic element is lost or switched off in the TCGF-independent variants.

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