In an effort to activate the globin genes of non-erythroid cells, tetraploid murine erythroleukaemia cells (Friend cells) were fused with diploid human amniotic fibroblasts. When the Friend cells were pretreated with dimethylsulphoxide, an average of 27% heterokaryons was observed. These cells stained with benzidine, an indication that they contained haemoglobin. The cells incorporated radioactive amino acids into proteins. Electrophoresis of [3H]leucine-labelled lysates on SDS urea polyacrylamide gels indicated that up to 7% of the newly synthesized protein co-electrophoresed with globin. CM cellulose chromatography demonstrated the presence of mouse but not human globin chains. Hybridization analyses of cytoplasmic RNA also revealed only mouse globin mRNA in the heterokaryons. Although heterokaryons form readily between mouse erythroleukaemia cells and human fibroblasts, and globin synthesis does occur, only the erythroid partner in the fusion system employed here directs globin production.

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