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Blood. 2000 Dec 15;96(13):4160-8.

During ontogeny primitive (CD34(+)CD38(-)) hematopoietic cells show altered expression of a subset of genes associated with early cytokine and differentiation responses of their adult counterparts.

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  • 1Terry Fox Laboratory, British Columbia Cancer Agency, Vancouver, BC, Canada.


Comparison of gene expression profiles in closely related subpopulations of primitive hematopoietic cells offers a powerful first step to elucidating the molecular basis of their different biologic properties. Here we present the results of a comparative quantitative analysis of transcript levels for various growth factor receptors, ligands, and transcription factor genes in CD34(+)CD38(-) and CD34(+)CD38(+) cells purified from first trimester human fetal liver, cord blood, and adult bone marrow (BM). In addition, adult BM CD34(+)CD38(-) cells were examined after short-term exposure to various growth factors in vitro. Transcripts for 19 of the 24 genes analyzed were detected in unmanipulated adult BM CD34(+)CD38(-) cells. Moreover, the levels of transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta), gp130, c-fos, and c-jun transcripts in these cells were consistently and significantly different (higher) than in all other populations analyzed, including phenotypically similar but biologically different cells from fetal or neonatal sources, as well as adult BM CD34(+) cells still in G(0) after 2 days of growth factor stimulation. We have thus identified a subset of early response genes whose expression in primitive human hematopoietic cells is differently regulated during ontogeny and in a fashion that is recapitulated in growth factor-stimulated adult BM CD34(+)CD38(-) cells, before their cell cycle progression and independent of their subsequent differentiation response. These findings suggest a progressive alteration in the physiology of primitive hematopoietic cells during development such that these cells initially display a partially "activated" state, which is not maximally repressed until after birth. (Blood. 2000;96:4160-4168)

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