The epidermal growth factor (EGF) receptor gene EGFR has been placed in a retrovirus vector to examine the growth properties of cells that experimentally overproduce a full-length EGF receptor. NIH 3T3 cells transfected with the viral DNA or infected with the corresponding rescued retrovirus developed a fully transformed phenotype in vitro that required both functional EGFR expression and the presence of EGF in the growth medium. Cells expressing 4 x 10(5) EGF receptors formed tumors in nude mice, while control cells did not. Therefore, the EGFR retrovirus, which had a titer on NIH 3T3 cells that was greater than 10(7) focus-forming units per milliliter, can efficiently transfer and express this gene, and increased numbers of EGF receptors can contribute to the transformed phenotype.

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