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J Transl Med. 2006 Feb 16;4:9.

The thrombopoietin receptor, c-Mpl, is a selective surface marker for human hematopoietic stem cells.

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H, Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, Immunology Program, Department of Interdisciplinary Oncology, University of South Florida, SRB-2, 12902 Magnolia Drive, Tampa, FL 33612-9416, USA.



Thrombopoietin (TPO), the primary cytokine regulating megakaryocyte proliferation and differentiation, exerts significant influence on other hematopoietic lineages as well, including erythroid, granulocytic and lymphoid lineages. We previously demonstrated that the receptor for TPO, c-mpl, is expressed by a subset of human adult bone marrow hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells (HSC/PC) that are enriched for long-term multilineage repopulating ability in the SCID-hu Bone in vivo model of human hematopoiesis.


Here, we employ flow cytometry and an anti-c-mpl monoclonal antibody to comprehensively define the surface expression pattern of c-mpl in four differentiation stages of human CD34+ HSC/PC (I: CD34+38--, II: CD34+38dim, III: CD34+38+, IV: CD34dim38+) for the major sources of human HSC: fetal liver (FL), umbilical cord blood (UCB), adult bone marrow (ABM), and cytokine-mobilized peripheral blood stem cells (mPBSC). We use a surrogate in vivo model of human thymopoiesis, SCID-hu Thy/Liv, to compare the capacity of c-mpl+ vs. c-mpl-- CD34+38--/dim HSC/PC for thymocyte reconstitution.


For all tissue sources, the percentage of c-mpl+ cells was significantly highest in stage I HSC/PC (FL 72 +/- 10%, UCB 67 +/- 19%, ABM 82 +/- 16%, mPBSC 71 +/- 15%), and decreased significantly through stages II, III, and IV ((FL 3 +/- 3%, UCB 8 +/- 13%, ABM 0.6 +/- 0.6%, mPBSC 0.2 +/- 0.1%) [ANOVA: P < 0.0001]. The relative median fluorescence intensity of c-mpl expression was similarly highest in stage I, decreasing through stage IV [ANOVA: P < 0.0001]. No significant differences between tissue sources were observed for either % c-mpl+ cells [P = 0.89] or intensity of c-mpl expression [P = 0.21]. Primary Thy/Liv grafts injected with CD34+38--/dimc-mpl+ cells showed slightly higher levels of donor HLA+ thymocyte reconstitution vs. CD34+38--/dimc-mpl---injected grafts and non-injected controls (c-mpl+ vs. c-mpl--: CD2+ 6.8 +/- 4.5% vs. 2.8 +/- 3.3%, CD4+8-- 54 +/- 35% vs. 31 +/- 29%, CD4--8+ 29 +/- 19% vs. 18 +/- 14%).


These findings support the hypothesis that the TPO receptor, c-mpl, participates in the regulation of primitive human HSC from mid-fetal through adult life. This study extends our previous work documenting human B-lineage, myeloid and CD34+ cell repopulation by c-mpl+ progenitors to show that c-mpl+ HSC/PC are also capable of significant T-lineage reconstitution in vivo. These results suggest that c-mpl merits consideration as a selective surface marker for the identification and isolation of human HSC in both basic research and clinical settings.

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