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Immunity. 2004 Dec;21(6):843-51.

Enhanced self-renewal of hematopoietic stem cells mediated by the polycomb gene product Bmi-1.

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  • 1Laboratory of Stem Cell Therapy, Center for Experimental Medicine, The Institute of Medical Science, University of Tokyo, Tokyo 108-8639, Japan. aiwama@ims.u-tokyo.ac.jp


The Polycomb group (PcG) gene Bmi-1 has recently been implicated in the maintenance of hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) from loss-of-function analysis. Here, we demonstrate that increased expression of Bmi-1 promotes HSC self-renewal. Forced expression of Bmi-1 enhanced symmetrical cell division of HSCs and mediated a higher probability of inheritance of stemness through cell division. Correspondingly, forced expression of Bmi-1, but not the other PcG genes, led to a striking ex vivo expansion of multipotential progenitors and marked augmentation of HSC repopulating capacity in vivo. Loss-of-function analyses revealed that among PcG genes, absence of Bmi-1 is preferentially linked with a profound defect in HSC self-renewal. Our findings define Bmi-1 as a central player in HSC self-renewal and demonstrate that Bmi-1 is a target for therapeutic manipulation of HSCs.

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