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Plateau-phase mouse clonal bone marrow stromal cell lines D2XRII and C3H c1 II produce decreasing levels of M-CSF (CSF-I), a specific macrophage progenitor cell humoral regulator, following x-irradiation in vitro. The decrease did not go below 40% of control levels, even after irradiation doses of 50,000 rad (500 Gy). In contrast, a distinct humoral regulator stimulating growth of GM-CSF/IL-3 factor-dependent (FD) hematopoietic progenitor cell lines was detected following radiation to doses above 2,000 rad. This humoral factor was not detectable in conditioned medium from irradiated cells, weakly detected using factor-dependent target cell populations in agar overlay, and was prominently detected by liquid co-cultivation of factor-dependent cells with irradiated stromal cell cultures. Subclonal lines of FD cells, derived after co-cultivation revealed karyotypic abnormalities and induced myeloblastic tumors in syngeneic mice. Five - eight weeks co-cultivation was required for induction of factor independence and malignancy and was associated with dense cell to cell contact between FD cells and stromal cells demonstrated by light and electron microscopy. Increases in hematopoietic to stromal cell surface area, total number of adherent cells per flask, total non-adherent cell colonies per flask, and cumulative non-adherent cell production were observed after irradiation. The present data may prove very relevant to an understanding of the cell to cell interactions during x-irradiation-induced leukemia.

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