Cultured skin fibroblasts from patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) are more sensitive than normal cells to prolonged exposure to the ionophore monensin. In a cell spreading assay in which cells were preincubated with monensin and subsequently allowed to adhere to and spread on a glass substratum in serum-free medium for 100 min, the mean transformed cell area of normal and DMD cells was 5.97 +/− 0.11 and 5.29 +/− 0.03, respectively. Cultured fibroblasts from carriers of DMD yielded a value of 5.59 +/− 0.03, which is intermediate between, and significantly different from, the values for both normal and DMD cultures. This result would be predicted on the basis of random X-chromosome inactivation in female carriers of this disorder. However, comparison of DMD carrier cell spreading data with data obtained from pooled and summated measurements taken from separate experiments using either normal or DMD fibroblasts suggest a more complex situation. Examination of the variance of the means of cell area for the true carrier population and the summated normal and DMD population provides evidence suggesting that some form of cellular interaction may occur between the two cell genotypes in culture.

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