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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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Department of Pathology, University of Florida College of Medicine, Gainesville, Florida 32610, USA.


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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