Recent work has implicated the activated ras oncogene, whose gene product is a G-protein located in the plasma membrane, as well as the activated raf oncogene, whose gene product is a membrane-associated protein kinase, in contributing to radioresistance. Another transforming oncogene whose gene product is localized to the plasma membrane is v-src. We have examined a rat fibroblast line (RAT-1) infected with an avian sarcoma virus carrying a temperature-sensitive mutation in the v-src tyrosine kinase domain (LA-24). At 40°C, LA-24 cells have a flat morphology and grow as a contact-inhibited monolayer, while at 35°C, LA-24 cells have a transformed morphology, lose contact inhibition, grow in soft agar, and exhibit 3.5-fold higher tyrosine kinase activity. The parental RAT-1 line, not infected by the virus, grows at both temperatures as a contact-inhibited monolayer. This well-characterized system represents a good model for examining the effect of v-src transformation on radiosensitivity. RAT-1 and LA-24 cells grown at 35 and 40°C were irradiated with graded doses of radiation, and clonogenic survival was assayed. For LA-24 cells grown at 35 and 40°C, and for RAT-1 cells grown at 35 and 40°C, calculated D0, n, ?, and ? values did not differ significantly. To determine whether there might be differences in radiation damage repair capacity too subtle to detect by comparing radiation survival curves, sublethal damage repair capacity was assessed. There was no difference in sublethal damage repair capacity for LA-24 cells grown at 35 or 40°C. Other studies have associated multidrug resistance with radioresistance. We have examined the radiation sensitivity of two colchicine-resistant LA-24 clones with four- to fivefold amplification of the P-glycoprotein gene, which are four- to fivefold more resistant to colchicine than the parental LA-24 line. In these multidrug-resistant clones, v-src activation does appear to increase radiation resistance. This did not appear to be due to alteration in cell cycle kinetics. We conclude that oncogene activation, or even protein kinase activity per se, does not necessarily lead to radiation resistance. Rather, radiation resistance following oncogene activation depends upon the oncogene and cell line studied, and perhaps upon specific protein phosphorylation.

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