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Nucleic Acids Res. 1992 Mar 11;20(5):997-1003.

LCR/MEL: a versatile system for high-level expression of heterologous proteins in erythroid cells.

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ICI Pharmaceuticals, Biotechnology Department, Macclesfield, Cheshire, UK.


We have used the human globin locus control region (LCR) to assemble an expression system capable of high-level, integration position-independent expression of heterologous genes and cDNAs in murine erythroleukaemia (MEL) cells. The cDNAs are inserted between the human beta-globin promoter and the second intron of the human beta-globin gene, and this expression cassette is then placed downstream of the LCR and transfected into MEL cells. The cDNAs are expressed at levels similar to those of the murine beta-globin in the induced MEL cells. Heterologous genomic sequences can also be expressed at similar levels when linked to to the LCR and beta-globin promoter. In addition we demonstrate that, after induction of differentiation, MEL cells are capable of secreting heterologous proteins over a prolonged time period, making this system suitable for use in continuous production systems such as hollow fibre bioreactors. The utility of the LCR/MEL cell system is demonstrated by the expression of growth hormone at high levels (greater than 100 mg/l) 7 days after induction. Since the expression levels seen do not depend upon gene amplification and are independent of the integration position of the expression cassette, it is possible to obtain clones with stable high-level expression within 3-4 weeks after transfection.

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