Abstract— Chronic exposure of the gray, short-tailed opposum, Monodelphis domestica to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) induces mesenchymal tumors of the cornea. High molecular weight DNA samples from 6 UVR-induced corneal tumors were assayed for their ability to transform NIH 3T3 cells to tumorigenicity. NIH 3T3 cells transfected with DNA from 5 of the corneal tumors produced 14 tumors in nude mice. Cell lines were established from these tumors. DNA from 13 of 14 tumor cell lines contained repetitive opossum DNA sequences. Southern blot analysis revealed that DNA from 3 of 4 cell lines derived from tumorigenic NIH 3T3 cells transfected with DNA from a single opposum tumor contained opossum Ki-ras oncogene sequences in addition to the murine Ki-ras gene. Northern blot analysis of mRNA from a mouse tumor cell line containing opossum Ki-ras gene sequences showed mRNA species identical in size to opossum Ki-ras mRNA, as well as murine Ki-ras mRNA species. These results suggest that an activated Ki-ras oncogene was present in one of the original opossum corneal tumors tested. Thus, activation of Ki-ras may play a role in the development of UVR-induced corneal tumors in Monodelphis domestica. Further characterization of ras oncogenes in these opossum tumors may provide information on the molecular mechanisms by which UVR induces corneal tumors in this species.
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