Hamster kidney cells transformed by BK virus (HKBK cells) were studied at low passage (about 30 subcultures) after transformation and at high passage (about 130 subcultures) after transforming. Several properties (rescue of virus, presence of T antigen, colony formation on plastic, in soft agar, on monolayers of normal cells, and serum dependency of growth) and tumourigenicity of these cells for newborn and adult hamsters were compared. HKBK cells at low passage showed high levels of T antigen, the growth properties of normal cells and low tumour-producing ability, while HKBK cells at high passage showed low levels of T antigen, the growth properties of transformed cells and high tumour-producing ability.

These results may indicate that cellular transformation by BK virus is initiated, but not maintained, by the expression of genes regulating T antigen, and that the maintenance of the transformed state is due to complicated cellular and viral gene interactions occurring during the course of cell life.


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