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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1988 Mar;85(5):1595-9.

Retroviral transfer of a murine cDNA for multidrug resistance confers pleiotropic drug resistance to cells without prior drug selection.

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  • 1Center for Cancer Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge 02139.


We have constructed a retrovirus expression vector that carries the murine mdr cDNA transcribed under the control of the human H4 histone promoter to examine the feasibility of efficiently transferring a multidrug resistance phenotype to cells without requiring drug selection. This approach will facilitate the transfer of mdr cDNA to hematopoietic progenitor cells for the study of multidrug resistance in vivo. The retrovirus vector pHmdr has been used for transmission and expression of the mdr cDNA in initially drug-sensitive NIH 3T3 fibroblasts. Selection of pHmdr infectants in the cytotoxic agents colchicine or doxorubicin gave rise to highly multidrug-resistant colonies containing a single gene copy of the vector. Moreover, in the analysis of 12 cloned unselected NIH 3T3 cell infectants, a multidrug resistance phenotype was conferred by as few as two copies of the pHmdr vector. Overexpression of the mdr cDNA in drug-selected and unselected pHmdr infectants was directly related to cell survival in three cytotoxic agents tested. These results hold significant implications for the study of multidrug resistance in vivo.

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