Glycosphingolipid alterations upon viral transformation are well documented. Transformation of mouse 3T3 cells with murine sarcoma viruses results in marked decreases in the levels of gangliosides GM1 and GD1a and an increase in gangliotriaosylceramide. The transforming oncogenes of these viruses have been identified as members of the ras gene family. We analyzed NIH 3T3 cells transfected with human H-, K- and N-ras oncogenes for their glycolipid composition and expression of cell surface gangliosides. Using conventional thin-layer chromatographic analysis, we found that the level of GM3 was increased and that of GD1a was slightly decreased or unchanged, and GM1 was present but not in quantifiable levels. Cell surface levels of GM1 were determined by 125I-labeled cholera toxin binding to intact cells. GD1a was determined by cholera toxin binding to cells treated with sialidase prior to toxin binding. All ras-transfected cells had decreased levels of surface GM1 and GD1a as compared to logarithmically growing normal NIH 3T3 cells. Levels of GM1 and, to a lesser extent, GD1a increased as the latter cells became confluent. Using a monoclonal antibody assay, we found that gangliotriaosylceramide was present in all ras-transfected cells studied but not in logarithmically growing untransfected cells. Interestingly, gangliotriaosylceramide appeared when the latter cells became confluent. These results indicated that ras oncogenes derived from human tumors are capable of inducing alterations in glycolipid composition.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6065-6068
Number of pages4
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number17
StatePublished - 1987


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