Cell surface antigens of totipotent mouse teratocarcinoma cells grown in vivo: Their relation to embryo, adult, and tumor antigens

Michael J. Dewey, John D. Gearhart, Beatrice Mintz

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Cell surface antigens on mouse embryonal carcinoma (or teratocarcinoma) cells were investigated by means of a syngeneic antiserum prepared against small-size embryoid bodies from the ascites form of the OTT 6050 transplantable teratoma. These embryoid bodies consist of embryonal carcinoma cells which are usually covered by a yolk-sac-like epithelium. The choice of immunogen was based on the previous demonstration [Mintz, B., and Illmensee, K. (1975) Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA72, 3585-3589] that embryonal carcinoma cells from this specific source are euploid, developmentally totipotent, and completely reversible to normalcy. In indirect immunofluorescence tests, anti-embryoid-body serum reacted with both cell types of the immunogen and with two in vitro lines of embryonal carcinoma cells. Absorption of antiserum with a pure yolk sac carcinoma derived from the epithelial component of the embryoid bodies enabled assessment of reactivity with the embryonal carcinoma component of the immunogen: The absorption revealed that some antigens recognized on the embryonal carcinoma cells were shared by the yolk sac epithelial cells but that some antigens were present only on the embryonal carcinoma cells. The antigens were not shared by sperm, which failed to fluoresce with unabsorbed antiserum and were ineffective when tested as absorbents of antiserum reactivity against embryoid body target cells. Unfertilized eggs also failed to fluoresce. Preimplantation embryos gave immunofluorescence evidence of some antigens shared with embryonal carcinoma cells (and some with yolk sac cells) during cleavage, and in the blastocyst on both inner cell mass and trophoblast. Postimplantation embryos were also antigen-positive (at least through Day 6) in immunofluorescence tests on endoderm as well as ectoderm cells. Absorption of the antiserum with various normal adult tissues showed substantial cross-reactivity, especially with ovary and testis. Other tumors were tested, but only hepatoma cells grown in vitro were reactive, thereby indicating lack of any general tumor recognition in the antiserum. The above results with syngeneic immunizations demonstrate that known totipotent teratocarcinoma cells possess surface molecules which, while not universal on normal cells or tumors, are shared with many other tissues, including developmentally plastic cells of early embryos, developmentally restricted cells of later embryos, and various adult tissues. Immunofluorescence tests of cleavage-stage (Day 2) embryos from matings of + t12 × + t12 heterozygotes, yielding 40% mutant t12 t12 homozygotes lethal on Day 3, were uniformly positive on all the embryos, including mutants and normals. Therefore, under these conditions, no evidence was adduced to support the hypothesis that surface components required for normal early development might be coded by the wild-type allele of t12.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-374
Number of pages16
JournalDevelopmental Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1977
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology


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