- IFN-gamma genes were introduced through retroviral vectors into the high metastatic, low H-2Kb class I expressor, and poorly immunogenic 3LL-D122 clone. Two types of IFN-gamma infectants were isolated: IFN-gamma high secretors (128 to 256 IU/ml) and IFN-gamma non- or very low secretors (< 2 IU/ml). Both manifested high expression of MHC class I Ag. IFN-gamma secretors showed significant decrease in tumorigenicity and metastatic growth, whereas IFN-gamma nonsecretors retain tumorigenicity and were more metastatic than parental D122 cells. However, both groups, when inoculated in an irradiated form, induced similar high levels of CTL and protected mice to the same degree against a subsequent graft of parental cells. This indicates that enhanced expression of MHC class I and related genes caused by IFN-gamma is the major participant in CTL induction. Immunization of mice carrying an established tumor of parental D122 cells with IFN-gamma infectants is capable of almost completely preventing lung metastasis. Immunotherapy of tumor-bearing hosts is more effective when IFN-gamma secreting cells are used as immunogens, indicating that mechanisms, in addition to CTL, are stimulated by secreted IFN-gamma. Moreover, immunization with IFN-gamma high secretors of postoperative mice, carrying established micrometastases, almost completely cured these mice. Support for the participation of non-T cell effectors in the response to IFN-gamma secretors derives from the reduced tumorigenicity of these cells in CD1 nude mice. These data provide a rationale for the use of IFN-gamma gene-transferred tumor cells as a modality for cancer therapy.