Transfection of normal human bronchial epithelial (NHBE) cells with a plasmid carrying the ras oncogene of Harvey murine sarcoma virus (v-Ha ras) changed the growth requirements, terminal differentiation, and tumorigenicity of the recipient cells. One of the cell lines isolated after transfection (TBE-1) was studied extensively and shown to contain v-Ha ras DNA. Total cellular RNA from TBE-1 cells hybridized to v-Ha ras structural gene fragment probes five to eight times more than RNA from parental NHBE cells. The TBE-1 cells expressed phosphorylated v-Ha ras polypeptide p21, showed a reduced requirement for growth-factor supplements, and became aneuploid as an early cellular response to v-Ha ras expression. As the transfectants acquire an indefinite life-span and anchorage independence they became transplantable tumor cells and showed many phenotypic changes suggesting a pleiotropic mechanism for the role of Ha ras in human carcinogenesis.
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