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Immunity. 2003 Jun;18(6):789-800.

Galactocerebrosides are required postnatally for stromal-dependent bone marrow lymphopoiesis.

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Department of Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY 10029, USA.


Galactocerebrosides (GCs) represent a major class of glycolipids in the nervous system. Here, we show that mice lacking the key enzyme to generate GCs, UDP-galactose:ceramide galactosyltransferase (CGT(-/-)), exhibit severe postnatal atrophy of all lymphoid organs, owing to a maturational arrest before the pro-B/T cell stage. This lineage-specific defect originates from the bone marrow (BM) stroma since it is not transplantable to irradiated wild-type recipients. Remarkably, CGT(-/-) long-term B lymphoid BM cultures displayed severe deficits in the number of CD45(neg)VCAM-1(pos) stromal cells and fibronectin matrix assembly, and produced floating macrophages rather than B lymphocytes. The fibronectin network was also altered in the CGT-deficient BM parenchyma. These results point to an essential role for galactolipids in the formation of fibronectin-enriched lymphoid-specific stromal niches in the BM.

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