Transplanted lymphomas (Thy 1.2+, Ig-) of BALB/c mice, induced by the injection of 1-ethyl-1-nitrosourea, were adapted for growth as in vitro lines to provide potential tools for investigation of T lymphocyte differentiation and functions. All these tissue culture lines maintained the same pattern of surface differentiation antigens (Ly, TL, and Thy-1 antigens) as they had expressed during in vivo passages: BALENTL 13 was Thy 1.2+, TL.2-, and Ly 1+2-. BALENTL 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 14 were Thy 1.2+, TL.2+, and Ly 1-2+. P1798 and BALENTL 9 were Thy 1.2+, TL.2+, and Ly 1+2+. There were various levels of terminal transferase activity present among these T cell tumor lines. The range of variation was from 4.6 units/108 cells to 29.3 units/108 cells (normal thymocytes, 5.0 units/108 cells). This 6-fold variation in TdT activity was present even among those cell lines which were Ly 1-2+, TL+.
Most culture lines had chromosome numbers near 40 and generation times of 11 to 22 hr. There were no significant morphologic changes after the adaptation of these tumors in culture except an increase in cytoplasmic C-type virus particles.