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Blood. 2002 Jan 15;99(2):507-12.

The ABCG2 transporter is an efficient Hoechst 33342 efflux pump and is preferentially expressed by immature human hematopoietic progenitors.

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Division of Clinical Research, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA 98109, USA.


A promising and increasingly exploited property of hematopoietic stem cells is their ability to efflux the fluorescent dye Hoechst 33342. The Hoechst-negative cells are isolated by fluorescence-activated cell sorting as a so-called side "population" (SP) of bone marrow. This SP from bone marrow, as well as other tissues, is reported to contain immature stem cells with considerable plasticity. Some cell lines also efflux Hoechst and generate SP profiles. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and efflux inhibition studies with the lung carcinoma cell line, A549, implicated the ABCG2 transporter as a Hoechst efflux pump. Furthermore, it is shown that transient expression of ABCG2 generates a robust SP phenotype in human embryonic kidney (HEK293) cells. The results allow the conclusion that ABCG2 is a potent Hoechst efflux pump. Semiquantitative RT-PCR was used to characterize the developmental pattern of expression of ABCG2 in hematopoiesis. It is expressed at relatively high levels in putative hematopoietic stem cells (isolated as SP, 34+/38- or 34+/KDR+ populations) and drops sharply in committed progenitors (34+/38+, 34+/33+, or 34+/10+). Expression remains low in most maturing populations, but rises again in natural killer cells and erythroblasts. Comparison of messenger RNA (mRNA) levels for the 3 major multidrug-resistant efflux pumps, MDR1, MRP1, and ABCG2, in bone marrow SP cells reveals that ABCG2 is the predominant form in these cells. These data suggest that ABCG2 contributes significantly to the generation of the SP phenotype in hematopoietic stem cells. Furthermore, the sharp down-regulation of ABCG2 at the stage of lineage commitment suggests that this gene may play an important role in the unique physiology of the pluripotent stem cell.

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