Some human marrows in culture release particles with oncornavirus-like properties. This study was designed to examine the immunological properties of similar particles in human marrow culture supernates. Leukemic and nonleukemic marrows were cultured for 5-7 days in the presence of [14C]uridine and [3H]leucine or [3H]glucosamine. Labeled supernatant components banding in sucrose gradient densities of 1.20-1.24 g/ml were used as antigen in a double antibody immunoprecipitation assay. The assay was validated by end point titrations and competition with unlabeled antigen; purified myeloma proteins were used as negative controls. Cross-reactivity with mammalian oncornaviruses, as judged by competitive inhibition of precipitation by these viruses, was slight and at the border of the sensitivity of the method. Precipitated antigens analyzed by SDS polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis contained three distinct polypeptides of about 70,000, 45,000 and 30,000 mol wt; these comigrated with the gp 70, pg 45, and p 30 of a murine leukemia virus. Similar polypeptides were obtained from both leukemic and nonleukemic marrow culture supernates. As determined by the radioimmunoprecipitation assay, 32 of 45 leukemic sera (71%), 36 of 45 normal sera (80%), 15 of 19 sera from family contacts of leukemic patients (79%), 14 of 21 cord blood specimens (67%), and 21 of 23 sera (91%) from patients with systemic lupus erythematosus had detectable antibody activity.

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