Continuous cell lines could be reproducibly established by culturing spleen cells from adult mice injected with MLV-producer cells or directly infected with Mo-MLV with rIL-2, whereas the culture of normal splenic cells with rIL-2 induced only transient and limited proliferation resulting in no such lines. All of the lines showed morphological characteristics as LGL with Thy-1+,Lyt-1-,L3T4-,Lyt-2-,AsGM1+,FcR gamma+ phenotype without exception, and most of them exhibited typical NK-patterned cytotoxicity. Analysis of reverse transcriptase activity of the culture supernatants as well as Southern hybridization of the DNA from the lines using an Mo-MLV-specific cDNA probe indicated no evidence of retroviral replication or proviral integration, suggesting that the generation of cell lines reflected a reactive process and viral infection was not directly responsible. It was subsequently revealed that Thy-1+,Lyt-1+,Lyt-2- spleen cells from mice infected with Mo-MLV in vivo spontaneously produced surprising amounts of IL-3 in vitro, leading to the possibility that IL-3 was responsible for the generation of lines. The possibility was directly supported by the observation that continuous lines with identical characteristics could be generated completely in vitro by sequential stimulation with rIL-3 and rIL-2 from normal spleen cells without any involvement of Mo-MLV. The C beta gene of TCR was shown to be rearranged in all the lines examined, indicating the LGL lines were all genetically committed to T cell lineage. Unlike the situation in normal splenic populations expanded by rIL-2, where the expression of IL-2-R was progressively lost, constitutive expression of high-affinity-IL-2-R was observed in all the lines and thus, this was considered to explain the unlimited proliferation of them in response to rIL-2 alone. These results suggested the probable role of IL-3 in the regulation of growth and differentiation of a set of LGL committed to T cell lineage. The possible implications of the phenomenon in the regulation of hematopoiesis as well as in the control of Mo-MLV-induced leukemogenesis were discussed.

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