Gene transfer by retrovirus vectors occurs only in cells that are actively replicating at the time of infection.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Molecular and cellular biology, Volume 10, Issue 8, p.4239-42 (1990)


1990, Animals, Cell Division, Cell Line, Dexamethasone, DNA Replication, DNA, Viral, Genetic Vectors, Kinetics, Promoter Regions, Genetic, Rats, Retroviridae, Thymidine, Transfection


Previous reports have shown that retrovirus infection is inhibited in nonreplicating (stationary-phase [hereafter called stationary]) cells. Infection of stationary cells was shown to occur when the cells were allowed to replicate at times up to a week after infection, suggesting that an unintegrated retrovirus could persist in a form that was competent to integrate after release of the block to replication. However, those studies were complicated by the use of replication-competent virus, which can spread in the infected cells. We have used a replication-defective retrovirus vector to compare the efficiency of gene transfer in stationary and replicating rat embryo fibroblasts. In agreement with previous results, gene transfer was inhibited 100-fold in stationary versus replicating cells. In contrast to previously reported results, the block to infection could not be relieved by stimulating stationary cells to divide at times from 6 h to 10 days after infection. Thus, for successful retroviral infection, the infected cells must be replicating at the time of infection. These results have important implications for the use of retroviral vectors for gene transfer.