To develop a highly efficient means for generating methotrexate resistant (MTXr) hematopoietic cells in vivo, a recombinant retroviral genome was constructed that encodes a MTXr dihydrofolate reductase (DHFRr). Cell lines producing high titers of virus capable of transmitting the DHFR gene were generated and used to infect mammalian cells in vitro. Analysis of infected fibroblasts indicated that the DHFRr gene was transmitted intact and conferred a high level of MTXr upon cells. Based on these findings, DHFRr-containing virus was used to infect murine bone marrow cells in vitro. Following infection, the transduced cells were introduced into lethally irradiated recipients via bone marrow transplantation techniques. The presence of the proviral sequences in cells of the spleen and bone marrow of engrafted recipients was associated with significantly increased survival of mice treated with otherwise lethal doses of MTX.

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