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J Exp Med. 2000 Jan 17;191(2):253-64.

The role of apoptosis in the regulation of hematopoietic stem cells: Overexpression of Bcl-2 increases both their number and repopulation potential.

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Department of Pathology and Developmental Biology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California 94305-5428, USA.


Hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) give rise to cells of all hematopoietic lineages, many of which are short lived. HSC face developmental choices: self-renewal (remain an HSC with long-term multilineage repopulating potential) or differentiation (become an HSC with short-term multilineage repopulating potential and, eventually, a mature cell). There is a large overcapacity of differentiating hematopoietic cells and apoptosis plays a role in regulating their numbers. It is not clear whether apoptosis plays a direct role in regulating HSC numbers. To address this, we have employed a transgenic mouse model that overexpresses BCL-2 in all hematopoietic cells, including HSC: H2K-BCL-2. Cells from H2K-BCL-2 mice have been shown to be protected against a wide variety of apoptosis-inducing challenges. This block in apoptosis affects their HSC compartment. H2K-BCL-2-transgenic mice have increased numbers of HSC in bone marrow (2.4x wild type), but fewer of these cells are in the S/G(2)/M phases of the cell cycle (0.6x wild type). Their HSC have an increased plating efficiency in vitro, engraft at least as well as wild-type HSC in vivo, and have an advantage following competitive reconstitution with wild-type HSC.

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