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Blood Cells. 1987;13(1-2):285-98.

Retroviral-mediated gene transfer into mammalian cells.

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  • 1Metabolism Branch, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD 20892.


Retroviruses may be used as genetic vectors to transfer genes into mammalian cells with high efficiency. We have shown that the N2 vector will transfer a functional bacterial gene for neomycin resistance (NeoR) into more than 80% of mouse spleen foci. A derivative of the N2 vector was constructed to study transfer and expression of the human gene for adenosine deaminase (ADA) in mammalian lymphoid and hematopoietic stem cells. This vector, termed SAX, contains the human ADA cDNA with an SV40 promoter in addition to the NeoR gene. The SAX vector was found to efficiently transfer and express the ADA gene in an ADA-deficient human T-cell line. Gene transfer by SAX using an autologous nonhuman primate bone marrow transplant model resulted in expression of the human ADA gene in peripheral blood cells of treated animals. Human bone marrow treated with SAX produced 1%-2% of colonies in vitro that were expressing the vector genes. Transfer of genes into circulating hematopoietic stem cells of fetal sheep in utero was most efficient; vector gene expression was evident in 20%-40% of hematopoietic colonies. Therefore, retroviral vectors are capable of transferring functional genes into a wide variety of mammalian lymphoid and hematopoietic cells. Such vectors may be useful for clinical trials of gene therapy, that is, the correction of genetic diseases by insertion of a normal gene into a patient's defective cells.

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