To create immortal mesenchymal cell lines, we transduced primary human bone marrow mesenchymal cells with telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT). TERT+ mesenchymal cells continued to grow for > 2 years: parallel TERT- cultures underwent senescence after 15 weeks. TERT+ mesenchymal cells did not form foci in soft agar. had a normal karyotype and could differentiate into osteoblasts and chondrocytes. Their capacity to support leukaemic lymphoblasts and normal CD34+ haematopoietic cells was equal to or greater than that of primary cells; 42 TERT+ mesenchymal cell clones varied in their supporting capacity. Immortalized mesenchymal cells offer a promising tool for identifying molecules that regulate human haematopoiesis.
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