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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1992 Aug 15;89(16):7350-4.

Support of human hematopoiesis in long-term bone marrow cultures by murine stromal cells selectively expressing the membrane-bound and secreted forms of the human homolog of the steel gene product, stem cell factor.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Children's Hospital, Boston, MA.


The maintenance and differentiation of hematopoietic stem cells is influenced by cells making up the hematopoietic microenvironment (HM), including bone marrow-derived stromal cells. We and several other investigators have recently demonstrated the molecular basis of abnormal HM observed in the steel mutant mouse and cloned the normal cDNA products of this gene (termed SCF, KL, or MCF). In this report, we focus on the human counterpart of the mouse Steel (Sl) gene. Alternative splicing of the human SCF pre-mRNA transcript results in secreted and membrane-bound forms of the protein. To investigate the role of these two forms of human SCF, we targeted an immortalized stromal cell line derived from fetal murine homozygous (Sl/Sl) SCF-deficient embryos for gene transfer of various human cDNAs encoding SCF. We report that stable stromal cell transfectants can differentially process the two forms of human SCF protein product. We also demonstrate that both soluble SCF and membrane-bound SCF are active in increasing the number of human progenitor cells in the context of stromal cell cultures, although in a qualitatively different manner. Hence, the membrane-bound form of SCF may play an important role in the cell-cell interactions observed between stromal and hematopoietic cells both in vitro and in vivo.

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