We demonstrate that human neoplastic B cells (Br cells) contain a cytoplasmic protein of molecular mass 60 Kd that exhibits B-cell growth factor (BCGF) activity on growth factor-dependent long-term human B cells as well as on autochthonous tumor cells. This 60-Kd protein is recognized by antibodies against a similar intracellular 60-Kd protein derived from normal human lymphocytes. These results demonstrate that the two proteins share epitope homology. Microculture bioassays indicate that neoplastic and normal 60-Kd proteins are capable of driving neoplastic B cells through S-phase. Western immunoblot analysis indicates that neoplastic B cells secrete 60- as well as 14-Kd protein. Immunoaffinity-purified proteins secreted by Br cells exhibit BCGF activity in anti-IgM or dextran sulfate-preactivated human B cells. In addition, a double-antibody immunofluorescence staining technique was used to demonstrate that Br cells express cell surface receptors for BCGF molecule(s). These studies provide support for the autocrine growth model for neoplastic human B cells and suggest that the autocrine growth factor derived from such tumor cells is similar if not identical to normal BCGF molecules.

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