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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1989 Jun;86(12):4564-8.

Clonal contributions of small numbers of retrovirally marked hematopoietic stem cells engrafted in unirradiated neonatal W/Wv mice.

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  • 1Institute for Cancer Research, Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, PA 19111.

Erratum in

  • Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 1989 Sep;86(18):7048.


Mice were repopulated with small numbers of retrovirally marked hematopoietic cells operationally definable as totipotent hematopoietic stem cells, without engraftment of cells at later stages of hematopoiesis, in order to facilitate analysis of stem cell clonal histories. This result depended upon the use of unirradiated W/Wv newborn recipients. Before transplantation, viral integration markers were introduced during cocultivation of fetal liver or bone marrow cells with helper cell lines exporting defective recombinant murine retroviruses of the HHAM series. Omission of selection in culture [although the vector contained the bacterial neomycin-resistance (neo) gene] also limited the proportion of stem cells that were virally labeled. Under these conditions, engraftment was restricted to a small population of marked and unmarked normal donor stem cells, due to their competitive advantage over the corresponding defective cells of the mutant hosts. A relatively simple and coherent pattern emerged, of one or a few virally marked clones, in contrast to previous studies. In order to establish the totipotent hematopoietic stem cell identity of the engrafted cells, tissues were sampled for viral and inbred-strain markers for periods close to one year after transplantation. The virally labeled clones were characterized as stem cell clones by their extensive self-renewal and by formation of the wide range of myeloid and lymphoid lineages tested. Results clearly documented concurrent contributions of cohorts of stem cells to hematopoiesis. A given stem cell can increase or decrease its proliferative activity, become completely inactive or lost, or become active after a long latent period. The contribution of a single clone present in a particular lineage was usually between 5% and 20%.

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