The mechanisms underlying differences in vulnerability to the cytocidal effect of TNF, among various cell lines and strains, were explored by examining the response to TNF of heterokaryons formed by fusing TNF-resistant and -sensitive cells. Several combination pairs of human and murine cells, differing significantly in response to TNF toxicity, yet expressing a similar level of TNF receptors, were examined. In all combinations tested, the heterokaryons exhibited resistance to TNF toxicity, comparable, in extent, to that of the more resistant of the two parental cell lines. This dominance of resistance suggests that differences in vulnerability to TNF toxicity reflect activities which are expressed by resistant cells and are deficient in vulnerable ones, activities which perhaps protect the cell against the cytocidal effect of TNF.

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