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In the work described here we demonstrate that the clonal cell line Mel-a-6, produced by transfection of mouse Melan-a cells with human MGSA, had an increased ability to form large colonies in soft agar and increased ability to form tumors when injected into nude mice as compared to cells transfected with the neomycin resistance gene alone. This effect appeared to be dependent on the levels of MGSA produced since another transfected clone, Mel-a-l, produced only a low level of MGSA transgene mRNA, formed only minimal large colonies in soft agar and had a tumorigenic rate equal to that of neomycin resistant controls. The histology of the Mel-a-6 tumors is compatible with features normally exhibited by melanoma tumors. The cells do not stain for melanin, and they are positive for the neural crest marker protein S-100 as well as the HMB 45 melanoma specific antigen. Immunohistochemical studies revealed expression of the human MGSA in tumor cells from tissues, excised from animals injected with cells from clone Mel-a-6. Whereas DNA ploidy analysis suggests that in vitro the Mel-a parent cell line, control Mel-a-neo, Mel-a-1 and Mel-a-6 cells show no evidence of aneuploidy, the nuclei isolated from the tumors from animals injected with Mel-a-6 do exhibit aneuploidy. These data suggest that over-expression of MGSA in immortalized melanocytes contributes to transformation.