Umbilical cord blood is rich in hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells and has recently been used successfully in the clinic as an alternative source of engrafting and marrow repopulating cells. With the likelihood that cord blood stem/progenitor cells will be used for gene therapy to correct genetic disorders, we evaluated if a TK-neo gene could be directly transduced in a stable manner into single isolated subsets of purified immature hematopoietic cells that demonstrate self-renewed ability as estimated by colony replating capacity. Sorted CD34(3+) cells from cord blood were prestimulated with erythropoietin (Epo), steel factor (SLF), interleukin (IL)-3, and granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) and transduced with the gene in two ways. CD34(3+) cells were incubated with retroviral-containing supernatant from TK-neo vector-producing cells, washed, and plated directly or resorted as CD34(3+) cells into single wells containing a single cell or 10 cells. Alternatively, CD34(3+) cells were sorted as a single cell/well and then incubated with viral supernatant. These cells were cultured with Epo, SLF, IL-3, and GM-CSF +/- G418. The TK-neo gene was introduced at very high efficiency into low numbers of or isolated single purified CD34(3+) immature hematopoietic cells without stromal cells as a source of virus or accessory cells. Proviral integration was detected in primary G418-resistant(R) colonies derived from single immature hematopoietic cells, and in cells from replated colonies derived from G418R-colony forming unit-granulocyte erythroid macrophage megakaryocyte (CFU-GEMM) and -high proliferative potential colony forming cells (HPP-CFC). This demonstrates stable expression of the transduced gene into single purified stem/progenitor cells with replating capacity, results that should be applicable for future clinical studies that may utilize selected subsets of stem/progenitor cells for gene therapy.

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