AbstractN-6 fatty acid metabolism was compared in NIH-3T3 cells and DT cells, which differ only in the presence of the v-Ki-ras oncogene. Non-dividing cells were incubated with [1-14C]-labelled fatty acids (18:2n-6, 18:3n-6, 20:3n-6 and 20:4n-6) at different time intervals (2-24 h) and concentration (0-120 microM). In both cells lines, the uptake of different fatty acids from the medium was similar and reached a maximum at 6-8 h. All fatty acids reached the same maximum level in DT cells, whereas, the relative uptake of added fatty acids by NIH- 3T3 cells was different: 20:4n-6 > 20:3n-6 > 18:2n-6 = 18:3n-6. Throughout the incubation (2-24 h), desaturation and elongation of n-6 fatty acids was more active in DT cells than in NIH-3T3 cells. However, in both cell lines, incubated with different n-6 fatty acid precursors, the levels of radiolabelled 20:4n-6 were relatively constant. In DT cells, phosphatidylcholine was found to be the major fraction labelled with n-6 fatty acids precursors and those of endogenous synthesis, whereas, in NIH-3T3 cells the neutral lipid fraction, particularly triglycerides, was also strongly labelled. In concentration dependent studies, phospholipid labelling by fatty acids was saturable. At lower concentrations, especially in DT cells, phospholipids were labelled predominantly. As the concentration increased there was an overflow into the triglyceride fraction. Since the differences in fatty acid metabolism between the two cell lines cannot be related to the growth rate, it is suggested that they were a consequence of the expression of the v-Ki-ras oncogene.
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