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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1995 Apr 11;92(8):3234-8.

Thrombopoietin, the Mp1 ligand, is essential for full megakaryocyte development.

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  • 1Division of Hematology RM-10, University of Washington, Seattle 98195, USA.


The development of megakaryocytes (MKs) from their marrow precursors is one of the least understood aspects of hematopoiesis. Current models suggest that early-acting MK colony-stimulating factors, such as interleukin (IL) 3 or c-kit ligand, are required for expansion of hematopoietic progenitors into cells capable of responding to late-acting MK potentiators, including IL-6 and IL-11. Recently, the Mp1 ligand, or thrombopoietin (Tpo), has been shown to display both MK colony-stimulating factor and potentiator activities, at potencies far greater than that of other cytokines. In light of these findings, we tested the hypothesis that Tpo is absolutely necessary for MK development. In this report we demonstrate that neutralizing the biological activity of Tpo eliminates MK formation in response to c-kit ligand, IL-6, and IL-11, alone and in combination, but that these reagents only partially reduce MK formation in the presence of combinations of cytokines including IL-3. However, despite the capacity of IL-3 to support the proliferation and initial stages of MK differentiation, elimination of Tpo prevents the full maturation of IL-3-induced MK. These data indicate that two populations of MK progenitors can be identified: one that is responsive to IL-3 but can fully develop only in the presence of Tpo and a second that is dependent on Tpo for both proliferation and differentiation. Thus, our results strongly suggest that Tpo is the primary regulator of MK development and platelet production.

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