A large number of biologic, technological, and clinical studies await the development of procedures that will allow totipotent hematopoietic stem cells to be expanded in vitro. Previous work has suggested that hematopoiesis can be reconstituted using transplants of cells from long- term marrow cultures. We have used retrovirus mediated gene transfer to demonstrate that marked totipotent hematopoietic stem cells are both maintained and can be amplified in such cultures, and then subsequently regenerate and sustain lympho-myeloid hematopoiesis in irradiated recipients. Marrow cells from 5-fluorouracil-treated male mice were infected with a recombinant virus carrying the neomycin resistence gene and seeded onto irradiated adherent layers of pre-established, long- term marrow cultures of female origin. At 4 weeks, cells from individual cultures were transplanted into single or multiple female recipients. Southern blot analysis of hematopoietic tissue 45 days posttransplantation showed retrovirally marked clones common to lymphoid and myeloid tissues in 14 of 23 mice examined. Strikingly, for 3 of 4 long-term cultures, multiple recipients of cells from a single flask showed marrow and thymus repopulation with the same unique retrovirally marked clone. These results establish the feasibility of retroviral-marking techniques to demonstrate the maintenance of totipotent lympho-myeloid stem cells for at least 4 weeks in the long- term marrow culture system and provide the first evidence of their proliferation in vitro. Therefore, such cultures may serve as a starting point for identifying factors that stimulate totipotent hematopoietic stem cell expansion.

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