Conditionally Immortal Ovarian Cell Lines for Investigating the Influence of Ovarian Stroma on the Estrogen sensitivity and Tumorigenicity of Ovarian Surface Epithelial Cells

Document Type


Publication Date



ovarian surface epithelium, ovarian epithelial cancer, ImmortoMouse, estrogen receptor, stromal–epithelial interaction

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)



The tendency of the ovarian surface epithelium (OSE) to undergo metaplastic and morphogenetic changes during the life cycle, at variance with the adjacent peritoneal mesothelial cells, suggests that its biology may be regulated by underlying ovarian stromal cues. However, little is known about the role that the ovarian stroma plays in the pathobiology of the OSE, largely because of the lack of a suitable in vitro model. Here, we describe the establishment and characterization of conditionally immortalized ovarian stromal and surface epithelial cell lines from H-2Kb-tsA58 transgenic mice that carry the thermolabile mutant of SV-40 large T antigen under the control of an interferon-γ (IFN-γ)–inducible promoter. These cells express functional T antigens, grow continuously under permissive conditions at 33° C in the presence of IFN-γ, and stop dividing when the activity and expression of the tumor antigen is suppressed by restrictive conditions without IFN-γ at 39° C. Morphological, immunohistochemical, and ultrastructural analyses show that conditionally immortal OSE cells form cobblestone-like monolayers, express cytokeratin and vimentin, contain several microvilli, and develop tight junctions, whereas stromal cells are spindle-like, express vimentin but not cytokeratin, and contain rare microvilli, thus exhibiting epithelial and stromal phenotypes, respectively. At variance with the reported behavior of rat epithelial cells, conditionally immortal mouse epithelial cells are not spontaneously transformed after continuous culture in vitro. More importantly, conditioned media from stromal cells cultured under permissive conditions increase the specific activity of the endogenous estrogen receptor in BG-1 human ovarian epithelial cancer cells and promote these cells' anchorage-independent growth, suggesting the paracrine influence of a stromal factor. In addition, stromal cells cultured under restrictive conditions retain this growth-stimulatory activity, which, therefore, appears to be independent of T antigen expression. These established cell lines should provide a useful in vitro model system for studying the role of cellular interactions in OSE cell growth and tumorigenesis.

Was this content written or created while at USF?


Citation / Publisher Attribution

In Vitro Cellular & Developmental Biology - Animal, v. 39, issue 7, p. 304-312