Sharon Key

Sharon Key

Keene State College

Biology & Chemistry


Mentor: Charles Walker, Ph.D. - Associate Professor of Zoology, Associate: J.P. Mulkern, Microbiology

A Novel Mass Culture System For Studies Of Leukemic Clam Blood Cells

Soft shelled clams (Mya arenaria) develop a diffuse blood tumor or leukemia. This disease is fatal. Until now it has been impossible to culture these rapidly dividing cells for molecular or other studies.

We have developed a method for mass culturing and cryopreserving the leukemic cells of Mya that should permit more widespread use of these cells in studies of leukemia. Using our chemically defined medium (modified from Sible et al., 1991) in spinner culture flasks (8 degrees C), leukemic cells harvested directly from the clam heart double in number in 53 hours and can be easily subcultured. We have also maintained leukemia cells in biofreezers (-196 degrees C) for extended periods of time (at least 3 months) and have subcultured recovered cells. In both cases, we have confirmed the identity of these cells with the clam leukemia specific antibody 1E10 (Miosky et al, 1989) and have characterized them cytologically.

Earlier studies in this laboratory have identified the tumor suppressor 53 and other cell cycle related genes from clam tissues. Because of the high degree of conservation in active sites of gene products like p53 between mammals and clams, our mass culture system provides a useful biomedical model for studies of mammalian leukemia based on a lower organism.

(Supported by Hatch 356 to CWW; McNair to SAK and SURF to JPM)

« View 1995 McNair Scholars