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Blood. 2009 Jan 15;113(3):649-58. doi: 10.1182/blood-2008-04-152686. Epub 2008 Oct 22.

Stroma-dependent apoptosis in clonal hematopoietic precursors correlates with expression of PYCARD.

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  • 1Clinical Research Division, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA 98109-1024, USA.


The role of the marrow microenvironment in the pathophysiology of myelodysplastic syndromes (MDSs) remains controversial. Using stromal/hematopoietic cell cocultures, we investigated the effects of stroma-derived signals on apoptosis sensitivity in hematopoietic precursors. The leukemia-derived cell line KG1a is resistant to proapoptotic ligands. However, when cocultured with the human stromal cell line HS5 (derived from normal marrow) and exposed to tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), KG1a cells showed caspase-3 activation and induction of apoptosis. Apoptosis was contact dependent. Identical results were obtained in coculture with primary stroma. Gene-expression profiling of KG1a cells identified coculture-induced up-regulation of various genes involved in apoptosis, including PYCARD. Suppression of PYCARD expression in KG1a by miRNA interfered with apoptosis. Knockdown of the TNF receptor 1 (TNFR1) or TNFR2 in HS5 cells had no effect. However, knockdown of R1 in KG1a cells prevented TNF-alpha-induced apoptosis, while apoptosis was still induced by TNF-alpha-related apoptosis-inducing ligand. Primary CD34(+) cells from MDS marrow, when cocultured with HS5 and TNF-alpha, also underwent apoptosis. In contrast, no apoptosis was observed in CD34(+) cells from the marrow of healthy donors. These data indicate that stroma may convey not only protective effects on hematopoietic cells, but, dependent upon the milieu, may also facilitate apoptosis.

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