Objective: To understand the intracellular signals leading to transformed-like growth of synovial fibroblast-like cells from patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
Methods: Cell lines stably transfected with one or both of 2 complementary oncogenes, the SV40 large T antigen and the ras oncogene, were studied for phenotypic changes.
Results: Synovial fibroblast-like cells stably transfected with the SV40 large T antigen, but not the ras oncogene, showed high levels of growth factor independent proliferation, grew under anchorage independent conditions, expressed cathepsin L mRNA, and formed transient tumors in immunodeficient mice. Synovial fibroblast-like cells stably transfected with both oncogenes appeared phenotypically similar to synovial fibroblast-like cells transfected with the large T antigen alone.
Conclusion: The SV40 large T antigen confers a phenotype on synovial fibroblast-like cells similar to that stimulated by growth factors, suggesting that it stimulates the same intracellular signalling pathway leading to cytokine induced, transformed synovial fibroblast-like cell growth. When injected into immunodeficient mice these transfected cells formed tumors characterized by rapid, transient growth, central necrosis, and neutrophil infiltration.