Development of a mouse salivary gland-derived mesenchymal cell line for immunological studies of murine cytomegalovirus

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The salivary glands are a crucial site of replication for human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) and its murine counterpart, murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV). Studies of MCMV often involve the use of BALB/c strain mice, but most in vitro assays are carried out in the NIH 3T3 cell line, which is derived from Swiss Albino mice. This report describes a BALB/c-derived mouse salivary gland cell line immortalized using the SV40 large T antigen. Cells stained positive for PDGFR1 and negative for E-cadherin and PECAM-1, indicating mesenchymal origin. This cell line, which has been named murine salivary gland mesenchymal (mSGM), shows promise as a tool for ex vivo immunological assays due to its MHC haplotype match with the BALB/c mouse strain. In addition, plaque assays using mSGM rather than NIH 3T3 cells are significantly more sensitive for detecting low concentrations of MCMV particles. Finally, it is demonstrated that mSGM cells express all 3 BALB/c MHC class I isotypes and are susceptible to T cell-mediated ex vivo cytotoxicity assays, leading to many possible uses in immunological studies of MCMV.

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PloS one

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