Human TK cells carrying the HSV-2 TK gene as a result of transformation with virus DNA express a TK activity of virus origin and maintain the TK phenotype when grown in HAT medium. Under non-selective conditions, however, reversion to a TK phenotype occurs with a significant frequency characteristic of each transformed line. Once reversion has occurred the TK phenotype appears to be stable, since only very rare instances of TK to TK reversion have been observed. TK revertants were susceptible to re-transformation by virus DNA, but no reactivation of a silent virus TK gene could be obtained by superinfecting them with a TK virus mutant. The data presented are consistent with the hypothesis that acquisition of the TK phenotype is brought about by loss of the virus sequences coding for TK.


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