A quantitative Abelson murine leukemia virus (A-MuLV) lymphoid cell transformation assay has been developed using a semisolid agarose culture system. Under these conditions lymphoid cell transformation was shown to vary linearly with the dose of A-MuLV used. The susceptibility of bone marrow cells from different strains of mice to A-MuLV-induced transformation can be estimated using the agarose assay. Strains with bone marrow cells of high, medium, and low susceptibility to A-MuLV can be identified. The assay has been used to study the susceptibility of cells from lymphoid organs of fetal and adult mice to A-MuLV. Cell suspensions from fetal liver, adult bone marrow, and adult spleen are susceptible to A-MuLV, while thymocytes are resistant to A-MuLV-induced transformation. Bovine serum albumin gradient fractionation of bone marrow cells before infection with A-MuLV demonstrates that the majority of A-MuLV-sensitive cells are recovered in a broad band partially overlapping the majority of the nucleated cells. The agarose assay system allows study of A-MuLV-lymphoid cell interaction at the level of single cell-single virus particle interaction.

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