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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2000 Oct 24;97(22):12260-5.

Hematopoietic progenitor cells grow on 3T3 fibroblast monolayers that overexpress growth arrest-specific gene-6 (GAS6).

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  • 1Department of Pathology, New York University School of Medicine, 550 First Avenue, New York, NY 10016, USA.


Pluripotential hematopoietic stem cells grow in close association with bone marrow stromal cells, which play a critical role in sustaining hematopoiesis in long-term bone marrow cultures. The mechanisms through which stromal cells act to support pluripotential hematopoietic stem cells are largely unknown. This study demonstrates that growth arrest-specific gene-6 (GAS6) plays an important role in this process. GAS6 is a ligand for the Axl (Ufo/Ark), Sky (Dtk/Tyro3/Rse/Brt/Tif), and Mer (Eyk) family of tyrosine kinase receptors and binds to these receptors via tandem G domains at its C terminus. After translation, GAS6 moves to the lumen of the endoplasmic reticulum, where it is extensively gamma-carboxylated. The carboxylation process is vitamin K dependent, and current evidence suggests that GAS6 must be gamma-carboxylated to bind and activate any of the cognate tyrosine kinase receptors. Here, we show that expression of GAS6 is highly correlated with the capacity of bone marrow stromal cells to support hematopoiesis in culture. Nonsupportive stromal cell lines express little to no GAS6, whereas supportive cell lines express high levels of GAS6. Transfection of the cDNA encoding GAS6 into 3T3 fibroblasts is sufficient to render this previously nonsupportive cell line capable of supporting long-term hematopoietic cultures. 3T3 cells, genetically engineered to stably express GAS6 (GAS6-3T3), produce a stromal layer that supports the generation of colony-forming units in culture (CFU-c) for up to 6 wk. Hematopoietic support by genetically engineered 3T3 is not vitamin K dependent, and soluble recombinant GAS6 does not substitute for coculturing the hematopoietic progenitors with genetically modified 3T3 cells.

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