Pronephric carcinoma: chromosomes of cells rescued from apoptosis by an oncogenic herpesvirus detected with a polymerase chain reaction.


The amphibian pronephros is fated to die during early development. Pronephric cells undergo apoptosis and their function is replaced by the mesonephros, which becomes the functional kidney of the adult frog. Tadpoles of the northern leopard frog, Rana pipiens, were inoculated with a Lucké tumour herpesvirus (LTV) preparation. Most of the animals developed typical Lucké renal carcinomas at metamorphosis. Fewer developed carcinomas of the pronephric cell type. A pronephric carcinoma, rescued from apoptosis by the herpesvirus, was harvested from a post-metamorphic frog. The tumour was judged to be pronephric by its anatomical location (in the anterior part of the body) and because both mesonephric kidneys were intact and tumour-free upon removal of the tumour mass. A tumour fragment was fixed for histological examination, which confirmed that the tissue was a renal carcinoma. A further fragment was subjected to short-term culture in order to produce metaphase cells for cytogenetical analysis. Based upon silverstained nucleolar organizing region numbers, 14 of 15 metaphase cells were estimated to have the diploid number (2N = 26) of chromosomes and a karyotype was constructed which did not appear to differ from that of normal cells. A single cell was estimated to be tetraploid (4N = 52). This is the first report of chromosomes of a pronephric Lucké carcinoma. LTV replicates only in tumour tissue maintained in the cold. Because the frog in this study had been maintained in the laboratory at 22 degrees C for about 10 months, no viruses would have been detectable with electron microscopy. However, the presence of Lucké herpesvirus DNA was detected in tumour homogenates by polymerase chain reaction amplification of a 1.2 kbp Hind III restriction fragment of the LTV DNA. The presence of LTV DNA provided assurance that the rescued pronephric tumour was indeed a Lucké carcinoma.