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Br J Haematol. 2011 May;153(4):520-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2141.2011.08652.x. Epub 2011 Mar 21.

Expression of blood group genes by mesenchymal stem cells.

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  • 1Institute of Clinical and Experimental Transfusion Medicine, University Hospital Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany.


Incompatible blood group antigens are highly immunogenic and can cause graft rejections. Focusing on distinct carbohydrate- and protein-based membrane structures, defined by blood group antigens, we investigated human bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) cultured in human serum. The presence of H (CD173), ABO, RhD, RhCE, RhAG, Kell, urea transporter type B (SLC14A1, previously known as JK), and Duffy antigen receptor of chemokines (DARC) was evaluated at the levels of genome, transcriptome and antigen. Fucosyltransferase-1 (FUT1), RHCE, KEL, SLC14A1 (JK) and DARC mRNA were transcribed in MSCs. FUT1 mRNA transcription was lost during differentiation. The mRNA transcription of SLC14A1 (JK) decreased during chondrogenic differentiation, while that of DARC increased during adipogenic differentiation. All MSCs synthesized SLC14A1 (JK) but no DARC protein. However, none of the protein antigens tested occurred on the surface, indicating a lack of associated protein function in the membrane. As A and B antigens are neither expressed nor adsorbed, concerns of ABO compatibility with human serum supplements during culture are alleviated. The H antigen expression by GD2dim+ MSCs identified two distinct MSC subpopulations and enabled their isolation. We hypothesize that GD2(dim+) H(+) MSCs retain a better 'stemness'. Because immunogenic blood group antigens are lacking, they cannot affect MSC engraftment in vivo, which is promising for clinical applications.

Published 2011. This article is a US Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.

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