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Blood. 1999 Feb 15;93(4):1168-77.

Expression of alpha4-integrin defines the earliest precursor of hematopoietic cell lineage diverged from endothelial cells.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Genetics, Faculty of Medicine, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan. mogawa@virus.kyoto-u.ac.jp


Embryonic stem cells can differentiate in vitro into hematopoietic cells through two intermediate stages; the first being FLK1(+) E-cadherin- proximal lateral mesoderm and the second being CD45(-) VE-cadherin+ endothelial cells. To further dissect the CD45(-) VE-cadherin+ cells, we have examined distribution of alpha4-integrin on this cell population, because alpha4-integrin is the molecule expressed on hematopoietic stem cells. During culture of FLK1(+) E-cadherin- cells, CD45(-) VE-cadherin+ alpha4-integrin- cells differentiate first, followed by alpha4-integrin+ cells appearing in both CD45(-) VE-cadherin+ and CD45(-) VE-cadherin- cell populations. In the CD45(-) VE-cadherin+ cell population, alpha4-integrin+ subset but not alpha4-integrin- subset had the potential to differentiate to hematopoietic lineage cells, whereas endothelial cell progenitors were present in both subsets. The CD45(-) VE-cadherin- alpha4-integrin+ cells also showed hematopoietic potential. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction analyses showed that differential expression of the Gata2 and Myb genes correlated with the potential of the alpha4-integrin+ cells to give rise to hematopoietic cell differentiation. Hematopoietic CD45(-) VE-cadherin+ alpha4-integrin+ cells were also present in the yolk sac and embryonic body proper of 9.5 day postcoitum mouse embryos. Our results suggest that the expression of alpha4-integrin is a marker of the earliest precursor of hematopoietic cell lineage that was diverged from endothelial progenitors.

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