Insulin-like growth factor I has similar mitogenic effects to insulin, a growth factor required by most cells in culture, and it can replace insulin in serum-free formulations for some cells. Chinese Hamster Ovary cells grow well in serum-free medium with insulin and transferrin as the only exogenous growth factors. An alternative approach to addition of exogenous growth factors to serum-free medium is transfection of host cells with growth factor-encoding genes, permitting autocrine growth. Taking this approach, we constructed an IGF-I heterologous gene driven by the cytomegalovirus promoter, introduced it into Chinese Hamster Ovary cells and examined the growth characteristics of Insulin-like growth factor I-expressing clonal cells in the absence of the exogenous factor. The transfected cells secreted up to 500 ng/106 cells/day of mature Insulin-like growth factor I into the conditioned medium and as a result they grew autonomously in serum-free medium containing transferrin as the only added growth factor. This growth-stimulating effect, observed under both small and large scale culture conditions, was maximal since no further improvement was observed in the presence of exogenous insulin.
- autocrine growth
- cell culture