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J Immunol. 2001 Apr 15;166(8):5027-33.

CXCR-4 desensitization is associated with tissue localization of hemopoietic progenitor cells.

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AIDS Research Center, Cancer Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02129, USA.


The chemokine stroma-derived factor (SDF)-1, and its receptor, CXCR-4, have been shown to be essential for the translocation of hemopoietic stem cells from the fetal liver to the bone marrow (BM). We hypothesized that if CXCR-4 plays a crucial role in the localization of human hemopoiesis, stem cells from distinct tissue sources should demonstrate distinct CXCR-4 expression or signaling profiles. CD34(+) cells from BM were compared with blood: either mobilized peripheral blood or umbilical cord blood. Unexpectedly, significantly higher levels of CXCR-4 surface expression on CD34(+) cells from blood sources, mobilized peripheral blood, or cord blood were observed compared with BM (p = 0.0005 and p = 0.002, respectively). However, despite lower levels of CXCR-4, responsiveness of the cells to SDF-1 as measured by either calcium flux or transmigration was proportionally greatest in cells derived from BM. Further, internalization of CXCR-4 in response to ligand, associated with receptor desensitization, was significantly lower on BM-derived cells. Therefore, preserved chemokine receptor signaling was highly associated with marrow rather than blood localization. To test the functional effects of perturbing CXCR-4 signaling, adult mice were exposed to the methionine-SDF-1beta analog that induces prolonged down-regulation/desensitization of CXCR-4 and observed mobilization of Lin(-), Sca-1(+), Thy-1(low), and c-kit(+) hemopoietic progenitor cells to the peripheral blood with a >30-fold increase compared with PBS control (p = 0.0007 day 1 and p = 0.004 day 2). These data demonstrate that CXCR-4 expression and function can be dissociated in progenitor cells and that desensitization of CXCR-4 induces stem cell entry into the circulation.

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