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Nature. 2002 Apr 4;416(6880):542-5. Epub 2002 Mar 13.

Bone marrow cells adopt the phenotype of other cells by spontaneous cell fusion.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, Florida 32610, USA. terada@pathology.ufl.edu


Recent studies have demonstrated that transplanted bone marrow cells can turn into unexpected lineages including myocytes, hepatocytes, neurons and many others. A potential problem, however, is that reports discussing such 'transdifferentiation' in vivo tend to conclude donor origin of transdifferentiated cells on the basis of the existence of donor-specific genes such as Y-chromosome markers. Here we demonstrate that mouse bone marrow cells can fuse spontaneously with embryonic stem cells in culture in vitro that contains interleukin-3. Moreover, spontaneously fused bone marrow cells can subsequently adopt the phenotype of the recipient cells, which, without detailed genetic analysis, might be interpreted as 'dedifferentiation' or transdifferentiation.

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