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Morphological characterization of cardiomyocytes isolated from a transplantable cardiac tumor derived from transgenic mouse atria (AT-1 cells).

J B Delcarpio, N A Lanson, L J Field, W C Claycomb

Circ. Res., 1991 Dec , 69, 1591-600

We have developed a transplantable tumor lineage derived from transgenic mouse atrial cardiomyocytes that express the SV40 large T oncogene and have named these cardiomyocytes AT-1 cells. In this study, the transplantable tumors, freshly isolated tumor cardiomyocytes, and cultured tumor cardiomyocytes were examined using phase-contrast microscopy, autoradiography, and electron microscopy. The vast majority of the subcutaneous tumor cells, greater than 90% of the cellular mass of the tumor, exhibited sarcomeric banding. Ultrastructural characteristics typical of in vivo atrial cardiac muscle cells, including well-organized myofibrils, gap junctions, and atrial-specific cytoplasmic granules, were observed in in situ and in freshly isolated AT-1 cells. Those cells that did not contain some form of organized myofibrils were primarily vascular elements, such as endothelial cells. Labeling with [3H]thymidine indicated that greater than 90% of cultured AT-1 cells were synthesizing DNA; furthermore, many cells could be seen undergoing cell division. Electron microscopy revealed that the cultured AT-1 cardiomyocytes contained all of the above-described characteristics, including a well-developed transverse tubular system.