Controlled synthesis of HBsAg in a differentiated human liver carcinoma-derived cell line.
A significant aspect of primary hepatic carcinoma in man is the high positive correlation of hepatocellular carcinoma with infection with hepatitis B virus (HBV)1. Analysis of the relationship between HBV infection and oncogenesis is difficult because natural infection with HBV is limited to man and experimental infection has been achieved only in chimpanzees and gibbons. Furthermore, because HBV has not been successfully propagated in cell culture, basic study of virus-cell interaction of the aetiological agent of one of the most widespread infections of man has been impossible. Recently, however, a cll line (PLC/PRF/5) derived from a human hepatoma biopsy was described which produces the HRV surface antigen (HBsAg) and so provides a tool for the experimental investigation of HBV in viro. We now report the derivation and characterisation of two additional cell lines primary liver carcinomas. In contrast to the PLC/PRF/5 cell line, these cell lines retain the capacity to synthesise many human plasma proteins, including both albumin and alpha-fetoprotein (AFP). One of these lines also produces BHsAg. We also present evidence that HBsAg synthesis and secretion in this cell line are correlated with the growth state of the culture. This finding is in contrast to the continuous HBsAg production found in the PLC/PRF/5 cell line.