Biological and morphological differences in the mammary tumors of BALB/cfC3H and BALB/cfRIII mice are due to differences in the causative viruses. The C3H and RIII variants of the murine mammary tumor virus (MuMTV) might give origin to different mammary tumors by transforming different types of cell, i.e. epithelial or myoepithelial cells. The nature (epithelial or myoepithelial) of the neoplastic cells has been investigated by demonstrating their plasma membrane ATPase activities. We found that in normal murine mammary gland both epithelium and myoepithelium have Mg++ dependent ATPase activity, while the myoepithelium shows in addition an Na+K+ dependent ATPase activity. It is suggested that the results obtained exclude the participation of myoepithelium to the neoplastic growth and we ascribe the differences in mammary tumors of the two strains of mice to differences in the mechanisms of action of the virus variants.
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