Murine/human chimeric gamma 1 and K Ig genes were cloned adjacent to the gene coding for methotrexate-resistant dihydrofolate reductase. These constructs were introduced into myeloma cells, and lines containing stably integrated genes were selected. The integrated Ig genes were then amplified by selection of the cells in increasing concentrations of methotrexate. The extent of gene amplification, mRNA accumulation, and production of Ig was studied in transfectomas containing introduced light chain genes, heavy chain genes, or both. When the light chain gene was introduced alone, it was expressed at low levels, but after selection with methotrexate, light chain expression was increased as much as 63-fold. In contrast, the transfected heavy chain genes were highly expressed, but production of the corresponding protein was increased a maximum of only fourfold by methotrexate treatment. Cellular toxicity of unassembled heavy chain monomer was not observed, even at amounts equivalent to 2% of total cellular protein. Cointroduction of the heavy and light chain constructs with subsequent amplification resulted in as much as 25-fold increase in secretion of intact antibody relative to unamplified cells. The results demonstrate that amplification of Ig genes can induce transfectomas to secrete antibody at nearly the rate of hybridomas.

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