Transgenic hepatocarcinogenesis in the rat.

Anne Griep // Publications // Aug 01 1994

PubMed ID: 8053496

Author(s): Hully JR, Su Y, Lohse JK, Griep AE, Sattler CA, Haas MJ, Dragan Y, Peterson J, Neveu M, Pitot HC. Transgenic hepatocarcinogenesis in the rat. Am J Pathol. 1994 Aug;145(2):384-97.

Journal: The American Journal Of Pathology, Volume 145, Issue 2, Aug 1994

Although transgenic hepatocarcinogenesis has been accomplished in the mouse with a number of genetic constructs targeting the oncogene to expression primarily in the liver, no example of this process has yet been developed in the rat. Because our understanding of the multistage nature of hepatocarcinogenesis is most advanced in the rat, we have developed a strain of transgenic rats carrying the promoter-enhancer sequences of the mouse albumin gene linked 5′ to the simian virus-40 T antigen gene. A line of transgenic rats bearing this transgene has been developed from a single founder female. Five to six copies of the transgene, possibly in tandem, occur within the genome of the transgenic animals, which are maintained by heterozygous matings. Livers of transgenic animals are histologically normal after weaning; at 2 months of age, small foci of vacuolated cells appear in this organ. By 4 months of age, all animals exhibit focal lesions and nodules consisting primarily of small basophilic cells, many of which exhibit considerable cytoplasmic vacuolization. Mating of animals each bearing the transgene results in rats with a demyelinating condition that develops acutely in pregnant females and more chronically in males. Ultrastructural studies of these cells indicate that the vacuoles contain substantial amounts of glycogen, with the cells resembling hepatoblasts. Malignant neoplasms with both a glandular and a hepatoblastoma/hepatocellular carcinoma pattern arise from the nodules. Enzyme and immunohistochemical studies of all lesions reveal many similarities in gene expression to comparable lesions in rats subjected to chemically induced hepatocarcinogenesis, with certain exceptions. The placental form of glutathione-S-transferase is absent from all lesions in the transgenic animal, as is the expression of connexin 32. A significant number of lesions express serum albumin, and many, but not all, exhibit the T antigen. Lesions expressing the T antigen also contain stainable amounts of the p53 gene product; by contrast, normal hepatocytes express only very low levels of the T antigen within their nuclei and no demonstrable p53. All of the animals develop hepatic lesions, and approximately one-third also develop adenomas and carcinomas derived from the islet cells of the pancreas. Although there are differences in the morphology, biology, and genetic expression in early and late hepatic lesions in this strain of transgenic rat, many similarities also occur, making this a potential model system with which to study the interactions of environmental factors with a genetic program for hepatocarcinogenesis.