Cultured mouse myocardial cells grown as monolayers fused upon treatment with HVJ (Sendai virus). The myocardial cells also fused with quail myocardial cells, neuroblastoma cells and non-excitable cells, such as KB cells. The beating activity of these heterokaryons was studied in the present work. Heterokaryons composed of myocardial cells from different species maintained spontaneous beating activity for 2 days or more. Those of one myocardial and one neuroblastoma cell maintained the activity for 22-26 h, while those of one myocardial and one non-excitable cell, such as KB cell, lost the activity within 2-4 h after addition of HVJ. Heterokaryons that had stopped spontaneous beating did not contract on application of electrical-field stimulation. The ration of non-myocardial cells in the heterokaryons increased in inverse proportion to the decrease in beating activity of the heterokaryons. Study of the rapid disappearance of beating activity in heterokaryons composed of one myocardial and one KB cell showed that both excitability of the cell membrane and myofibril organization were rapidly lost.
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