Previous resutls have shown that cells can be killed by the expression of an introduced gene encoding diphtheria toxin A-fragment (DT-A) and that killing can be targeted using tissue-specific transcriptional regulatory elements. Here, we describe expression plasmids containing the DT-A gene linked with promoters and enhancers from immunoglobulin heavy chain or κ-light chain genes. When these plasmids were transfected into cultured cells, DT-A was expressed in B-lymphoid cells but not detectably in HeLa cells or fibroblasts. A high specificity for B-cells was confirmed by assaying for luciferase reporter gene expression from a plasmid containing an analogous combination of immunoglobulin heavy chain regulatory elements. A plasmid containing an immunoglobulin-κ promoter and enhancer was substantially less active in expressing DT-A in a pre-B-cell line than in B-lymphoma cells, suggesting the possibility of targeting DT-A expression to mature, malignant B-cells while sparing normal B-cell progenitors. By means of viral delivery vehicles, the constructs described might be applied in gene therapy for B cell leuke mias or lymphomas.

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Supported by NIH Grant CA42354 (I. H. M.) and by grants from the Cancer League of Colorado and the University of Colorado Cancer Research Foundation.

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