Characterization of Retroviral Gene Transfer into Highly Purified Human CD34− Cells with Primitive Hematopoietic Capacity
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Primitive human hematopoietic cells have recently been identified within a rare subfraction of CD34(-) lineage-depleted (Lin(-)) cells and further characterized by their restriction to a rarer subset expressing AC133. Here we show that CD34(-)AC133(+)Lin(-) cells can be transduced by retrovirus at a comparatively higher efficiency than either CD34(-)AC133(-)Lin(-) or CD34(+)CD38(-)Lin(-) cells. Subpopulations were transduced by enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP)-containing retrovirus in serum-free conditions. During the culture period, both CD34(-)AC133(+)Lin(-) and CD34(+)CD38(-)Lin(-) subfractions expanded, whereas CD34(-)AC133(-)Lin(-) cells could not be sustained. Fluorescent microscopic examination of progenitors assayed by colony-forming units (CFU) derived from CD34(-)AC133(+)Lin(-) cells revealed expression of eGFP, with the presence of provirus confirmed by clonal PCR analysis. Flow cytometry detecting eGFP revealed that cultures seeded with CD34(-)AC133(+)Lin(-) cells had a greater than threefold higher frequency of eGFP(+) cells compared with transduced cultures of CD34(+)CD38(-)Lin(-) cells. Our results demonstrate that retroviral transduction efficiency and level of transgene expression into CD34(-)AC133(+)Lin(-) cells is distinct to either CD34(-)AC133(-)Lin(-) or CD34(+)CD38(-)Lin(-) cells. This study represents the first evaluation of retroviral transduction into this population of primitive CD34(-) cells, and therefore provides the basis for optimization of gene transfer protocols to examine the role of gene-marked CD34(-) stem cells in a clinical setting.
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