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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Sep 1975; 72(9): 3531–3535.
PMCID: PMC433029

Gene transfer to human cells: transducing phage lambda plac gene expression in GMI-gangliosidosis fibroblasts.


Genetic information from the bacterium Escherichia coli was transferred to human cells by means of the specialized transducing phage lambda plac carrying the bacterial z gene for the enzyme beta-galactosidase (geta-D-galactoside galactohydrolase, EC As recipient cells, cultured skin fibroblasts from a patient with generalized gangliosidosis (GMI-gangliosidosis Type I) characterized by a severe deficiency of beta-galactosidase activity were used. The deficient human cells were incubated with the bacteriophage lambda plac or lambda plac DNA and beta-galactosidase activity was measured in order to detect gene transfer and acceptance of the prokaryotic information in the mammalian system for transcription and translation. The expression of the phage genome in the deficient fibroblasts could be demonstrated by detection of higher beta-galactosidase activity after incubation with phage lambda plac in three out of 19 experiments and in four out of 16 experiments after treatment with lambda plac DNA. Lambda plac DNA induced much higher enzyme activities than infective phage particles. Immunochemical and physicochemical assays could not distinguish the induced beta-galactosidase activity from that of the z-gene product of E. coli.

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