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1.  The Niche as a Target for Hematopoietic Manipulation and Regeneration 
Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), rare primitive cells capable of reconstituting all blood cell lineages, are the only stem cells currently routinely used for therapeutic purposes. Clinical experience has shown that HSC number is an important limiting factor in treatment success. Strategies to expand HSCs are of great clinical appeal, as they would improve therapeutic use of these cells in stem cell transplantation and in conditions of bone marrow failure. The microenvironment in which HSCs reside, known as the niche, has long been considered a critical regulator of HSCs. Data accumulated over the past decade strongly confirm the importance of the niche in HSC behavior. A number of niche components as well as signaling pathways, such as Notch, have been implicated in the interaction of the microenvironment with HSCs and continue to be genetically evaluated in the hope of defining the critical elements that are required and which, if modified, can initiate HSC behaviors. In this review, we highlight the known characteristics of HSCs, challenges in their expansion, the niche phenomenon, and explain why niche stimulated HSC expansion is of utmost interest in the field, while beginning to bring to the fore potential caveats of niche manipulation. Lastly, the potential pitfalls of avoiding malignancy and controlling self-renewal versus differentiation will be briefly reviewed.
PMCID: PMC3223020  PMID: 21902610
2.  Hematopoietic niche and bone meet 
Purpose of review
To provide an overview of the hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) niche in the bone marrow. In addition to highlighting recent advances in the field, we will also discuss components of the niche that may contribute to the development of cancer, or cancer metastases to the bone.
Recent findings
Much progress has been very recently made in the understanding of the cellular and molecular interactions in the HSC microenvironment. These recent findings point out the extraordinary complexity of the HSC microenvironment. Emerging data also suggest convergence of signals important for HSC and for leukemia or metastatic disease support.
The HSC niche comprises complex interactions between multiple cell types and molecules requiring cell-cell signaling as well as local secretion. These components can be thought of as therapeutic targets not only for HSC expansion, but also to modify behavior of hematopoietic malignancies and cancer metastases to the bone.
PMCID: PMC2572865  PMID: 18685423
hematopoietic stem cells; niche; notch
3.  Differential Expression of Novel Potential Regulators in Hematopoietic Stem Cells  
PLoS Genetics  2005;1(3):e28.
The hematopoietic system is an invaluable model both for understanding basic developmental biology and for developing clinically relevant cell therapies. Using highly purified cells and rigorous microarray analysis we have compared the expression pattern of three of the most primitive hematopoietic subpopulations in adult mouse bone marrow: long-term hematopoietic stem cells (HSC), short-term HSC, and multipotent progenitors. All three populations are capable of differentiating into a spectrum of mature blood cells, but differ in their self-renewal and proliferative capacity. We identified numerous novel potential regulators of HSC self-renewal and proliferation that were differentially expressed between these closely related cell populations. Many of the differentially expressed transcripts fit into pathways and protein complexes not previously identified in HSC, providing evidence for new HSC regulatory units. Extending these observations to the protein level, we demonstrate expression of several of the corresponding proteins, which provide novel surface markers for HSC. We discuss the implications of our findings for HSC biology. In particular, our data suggest that cell–cell and cell–matrix interactions are major regulators of long-term HSC, and that HSC themselves play important roles in regulating their immediate microenvironment.
Hematopoietic, or blood-forming, stem cells (HSC) are responsible for the continual replenishment of all blood cells throughout life. This ability to both renew themselves and give rise to expanded populations of differentiating and mature cells is a hallmark of stem cells and is therefore an area of intense research. The rarity of HSC as well as their location in the bone marrow environment has made it difficult to identify the genes that regulate these properties. The earliest stages of blood development begins with the long-term (LT) repopulating HSC that then differentiate into short-term (ST) repopulating HSC and non-self renewing multipotent progenitors (MPP). The authors investigated the gene expression differences in these highly purified populations that differ mainly in their capacity to self renew, and identified a number of genes specific to each of these populations. Intriguingly, many of these genes code for proteins that are involved in cell–cell and cell–matrix interactions that were not previously identified on these populations. These novel discoveries will, together with future experiments, enhance our understanding of the basic biology of stem cells and their clinical uses.
PMCID: PMC1200425  PMID: 16151515
4.  The Endoplasmic Reticulum Chaperone Protein GRP94 Is Required for Maintaining Hematopoietic Stem Cell Interactions with the Adult Bone Marrow Niche 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e20364.
Hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) homeostasis in the adult bone marrow (BM) is regulated by both intrinsic gene expression products and interactions with extrinsic factors in the HSC niche. GRP94, an endoplasmic reticulum chaperone, has been reported to be essential for the expression of specific integrins and to selectively regulate early T and B lymphopoiesis. In GRP94 deficient BM chimeras, multipotent hematopoietic progenitors persisted and even increased, however, the mechanism is not well understood. Here we employed a conditional knockout (KO) strategy to acutely eliminate GRP94 in the hematopoietic system. We observed an increase in HSCs and granulocyte-monocyte progenitors in the Grp94 KO BM, correlating with an increased number of colony forming units. Cell cycle analysis revealed that a loss of quiescence and an increase in proliferation led to an increase in Grp94 KO HSCs. This expansion of the HSC pool can be attributed to the impaired interaction of HSCs with the niche, evidenced by enhanced HSC mobilization and severely compromised homing and lodging ability of primitive hematopoietic cells. Transplanting wild-type (WT) hematopoietic cells into a GRP94 null microenvironment yielded a normal hematology profile and comparable numbers of HSCs as compared to WT control, suggesting that GRP94 in HSCs, but not niche cells, is required for maintaining HSC homeostasis. Investigating this, we further determined that there was a near complete loss of integrin α4 expression on the cell surface of Grp94 KO HSCs, which showed impaired binding with fibronectin, an extracellular matrix molecule known to play a role in mediating HSC-niche interactions. Furthermore, the Grp94 KO mice displayed altered myeloid and lymphoid differentiation. Collectively, our studies establish GRP94 as a novel cell intrinsic factor required to maintain the interaction of HSCs with their niche, and thus regulate their physiology.
PMCID: PMC3101259  PMID: 21647226
5.  The stem cell niches in bone 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2006;116(5):1195-1201.
The stem cell niche is composed of a specialized population of cells that plays an essential role in regulating adult stem cell self-renewal and differentiation. In adults, osteoblasts, responsible for osteogenesis, and hematopoietic cells, responsible for hematopoiesis, are closely associated in the bone marrow, suggesting a reciprocal relationship between the two. It was recently discovered that a subset of osteoblasts functions as a key component of the HSC niche (namely, the osteoblastic niche), controlling HSC numbers. HSCs interact not only with osteoblasts but also with other stromal cells, including endothelial cells. Sinusoidal endothelial cells in bone marrow have been revealed as an alternative HSC niche called the vascular niche. In this Review we compare the architecture of these 2 HSC niches in bone marrow. We also highlight the function of osteoblasts in maintaining a quiescent HSC microenvironment and the likely role of the vascular niche in regulating stem cell proliferation, differentiation, and mobilization. In addition, we focus on studies of animal models and in vitro assays that have provided direct insights into the actions of these osteoblastic and vascular niches, revealing central roles for numerous signaling and adhesion molecules. Many of the discoveries described herein may contribute to future clinical treatments for hematopoietic and bone-related disorders, including cancer.
PMCID: PMC1451221  PMID: 16670760
6.  The Biochemistry of Hematopoietic Stem Cell Development 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2012;1830(2):2395-2403.
The cornerstone of the adult hematopoietic system and clinical treatments for blood-related disease is the cohort of hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) that is harbored in the adult bone marrow microenvironment. Interestingly, this cohort of HSCs is generated only during a short window of developmental time. In mammalian embryos, hematopoietic progenitor and HSC generation occurs within several extra- and intra-embryonic microenvironments, most notably from ‘hemogenic’ endothelial cells lining the major vasculature. HSCs are made through a remarkable transdifferentiation of endothelial cells to a hematopoietic fate that is long-lived and self-renewable. Recent studies are beginning to provide an understanding of the biochemical signaling pathways and transcription factors/complexes that promote their generation.
Scope of the review
The focus of this review is on the biochemistry behind the generation of these potent long-lived self-renewing stem cells of the blood system. Both the intrinsic (master transcription factors) and extrinsic regulators (morphogens and growth factors) that affect the generation, maintenance and expansion of HSCs in the embryo will be discussed.
Major conclusions
The generation of HSCs is a stepwise process involving many developmental signaling pathways, morphogens and cytokines. Pivotal hematopoietic transcription factors are required for their generation. Interestingly, whereas these factors are necessary for HSC generation, their expression in adult bone marrow HSCs is oftentimes not required. Thus, the biochemistry and molecular regulation of HSC development in the embryo is overlapping, but differs significantly from the regulation of HSCs in the adult.
General significance
HSC numbers for clinical use are limiting, and despite much research into the molecular basis of HSC regulation in the adult bone marrow, no panel of growth factors, interleukins and/or morphogens has been found to sufficiently increase the number of these important stem cells. An understanding of the biochemistry of HSC generation in the developing embryo provides important new knowledge on how these complex stem cells are made, sustained and expanded in the embryo to give rise to the complete adult hematopoietic system, thus stimulating novel strategies for producing increased numbers of clinically useful HSCs.
PMCID: PMC3587313  PMID: 23069720
hematopoietic stem cells; AGM; development; transcription factors; signaling pathways
7.  Circulation and Chemotaxis of Fetal Hematopoietic Stem Cells 
PLoS Biology  2004;2(3):e75.
The major site of hematopoiesis transitions from the fetal liver to the spleen and bone marrow late in fetal development. To date, experiments have not been performed to evaluate functionally the migration and seeding of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) during this period in ontogeny. It has been proposed that developmentally timed waves of HSCs enter the bloodstream only during distinct windows to seed the newly forming hematopoietic organs. Using competitive reconstitution assays to measure HSC activity, we determined the localization of HSCs in the mid-to-late gestation fetus. We found that multilineage reconstituting HSCs are present at low numbers in the blood at all timepoints measured. Seeding of fetal bone marrow and spleen occurred over several days, possibly while stem cell niches formed. In addition, using dual-chamber migration assays, we determined that like bone marrow HSCs, fetal liver HSCs migrate in response to stromal cell-derived factor-1α (SDF-1α); however, unlike bone marrow HSCs, the migratory response of fetal liver HSCs to SDF-1α is greatly increased in the presence of Steel factor (SLF), suggesting an important role for SLF in HSC homing to and seeding of the fetal hematopoietic tissues. Together, these data demonstrate that seeding of fetal organs by fetal liver HSCs does not require large fluxes of HSCs entering the fetal bloodstream, and that HSCs constitutively circulate at low levels during the gestational period from 12 to 17 days postconception. Newly forming hematopoietic tissues are seeded gradually by HSCs, suggesting initial seeding is occurring as hematopoietic niches in the spleen and bone marrow form and become capable of supporting HSC self-renewal. We demonstrate that fetal and adult HSCs exhibit specific differences in chemotactic behavior. While both migrate in response to SDF-1α, fetal HSCs also respond significantly to the cytokine SLF. In addition, the combination of SDF-1α and SLF results in substantially enhanced migration of fetal HSCs, leading to migration of nearly all fetal HSCs in this assay. This finding indicates the importance of the combined effects of SLF and SDF-1α in the migration of fetal HSCs, and is, to our knowledge, the first demonstration of a synergistic effect of two chemoattractive agents on HSCs.
New results on the migratory behavior of blood cell precursors in the early embryo might be relevant to bone marrow transplants and other clinical therapies
PMCID: PMC368169  PMID: 15024423
8.  CD81 Is Essential for the Re-entry of Hematopoietic Stem Cells to Quiescence following Stress-Induced Proliferation Via Deactivation of the Akt Pathway 
PLoS Biology  2011;9(9):e1001148.
A protein that is thought to orchestrate the distribution of other signaling molecules on the cell membrane, CD81, is critical to maintaining the functional integrity of hematopoietic stem cells during their regeneration.
The regulatory mechanisms governing the cell cycle progression of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are well characterized, but those responsible for the return of proliferating HSCs to a quiescent state remain largely unknown. Here, we present evidence that CD81, a tetraspanin molecule acutely responsive to proliferative stress, is essential for the maintenance of long-term repopulating HSCs. Cd81−/− HSCs showed a marked engraftment defect when transplanted into secondary recipient mice and a significantly delayed return to quiescence when stimulated to proliferate with 5-fluorouracil (5FU). In addition, we found that CD81 proteins form a polarized patch when HSCs are returning to quiescence. Thus, we propose that the spatial distribution of CD81 during the HSC recovery phase drives proliferative HSC to quiescence, and is important to preserve the self-renewal properties. Here, we show that lack of CD81 leads to loss of HSC self-renewal, and the clustering of CD81 on HSC membrane results in deactivation of Akt, which subsequently leads to nuclear translocation of FoxO1a. Thus, CD81 functions as part of a previously undefined mechanism that prohibits excessive proliferation of HSCs exposed to environmental stress.
Author Summary
Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) remain dormant in the bone marrow until needed to replenish the hematopoietic system, at which point they are stimulated to proliferate extensively, undergoing both regeneration (self-renewal) and differentiation. Self-renewal is key to maintaining an adequate HSC reserve, and return to dormancy after such stimulation is critical, yet still poorly understood. In this study, we report that CD81, a transmembrane organizing protein, is a novel regulator involved in HSC self-renewal. Transplanting HSCs into mice that are lethally irradiated to remove their native HSCs stimulates the transplanted HSCs to proliferate to replenish the hematopoietic system, allowing us to examine whether and how HSCs return to quiescence. HSCs lacking CD81 take longer to return to quiescence after such stimulation, resulting in reduced stem cell function. Conversely, forced CD81 membrane clustering, using an antibody, promotes early return of proliferating stem cells to quiescence and nuclear localization of FoxO1a, a key protein that mediates the cell cycle arrest. CD81 clustering also constrains Akt activity, which orchestrates multiple pathways such as cell proliferation and responses to reactive oxygen species. Treatment of Cd81-deficient HSCs with an Akt inhibitor, perifosine, which bypasses the requirement for CD81 in this process, rescues the delay defect of Cd81-deficient HSCs. Together, our data demonstrate that CD81 is critical to maintaining the functional integrity of HSCs during regeneration, and it is acting through Akt to influence its downstream pathways that govern cell cycle progression.
PMCID: PMC3172193  PMID: 21931533
9.  Population dynamics of normal and leukaemia stem cells in the haematopoietic stem cell niche show distinct regimes where leukaemia will be controlled 
Haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are responsible for maintaining immune cells, red blood cells and platelets throughout life. HSCs must be located in their ecological niche (the bone marrow) to function correctly, that is, to regenerate themselves and their progeny; the latter eventually exit the bone marrow and enter circulation. We propose that cells with oncogenic potential—cancer/leukaemia stem cells (LSC)—and their progeny will also occupy this niche. Mathematical models, which describe the dynamics of HSCs, LSCs and their progeny allow investigation into the conditions necessary for defeating a malignant invasion of the niche. Two such models are developed and analysed here. To characterize their behaviour, we use an inferential framework that allows us to study regions in parameter space that give rise to desired behaviour together with an assessment of the robustness of the dynamics. Using this approach, we map out conditions under which HSCs can outcompete LSCs. In therapeutic applications, we clearly want to drive haematopoiesis into such regimes and the current analysis provide some guidance as to how we can identify new therapeutic targets. Our results suggest that maintaining a viable population of HSCs and their progenies in the niche may often already be nearly sufficient to eradicate LSCs from the system.
PMCID: PMC3627104  PMID: 23349436
population biology; stem cells; haematopoiesis; approximate Bayesian computation; robustness
10.  CXCR4 is required for the quiescence of primitive hematopoietic cells 
The quiescence of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) is critical for preserving a lifelong steady pool of HSCs to sustain the highly regenerative hematopoietic system. It is thought that specialized niches in which HSCs reside control the balance between HSC quiescence and self-renewal, yet little is known about the extrinsic signals provided by the niche and how these niche signals regulate such a balance. We report that CXCL12 produced by bone marrow (BM) stromal cells is not only the major chemoattractant for HSCs but also a regulatory factor that controls the quiescence of primitive hematopoietic cells. Addition of CXCL12 into the culture inhibits entry of primitive hematopoietic cells into the cell cycle, and inactivation of its receptor CXCR4 in HSCs causes excessive HSC proliferation. Notably, the hyperproliferative Cxcr4−/− HSCs are able to maintain a stable stem cell compartment and sustain hematopoiesis. Thus, we propose that CXCR4/CXCL12 signaling is essential to confine HSCs in the proper niche and controls their proliferation.
PMCID: PMC2292218  PMID: 18378795
11.  The Stromal Activity of Mesenchymal Stromal Cells 
The mechanism that regulates self-renewal and differentiation of hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) is a central question in stem cell biology that might ultimately lead to reliable protocols for in vitro expansion of HSC. Cellular fate is governed by cell-cell interaction with the microenvironment in the bone marrow, the stem cell niche. Mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC) are precursors of the cellular components, and they secrete extracellular matrix proteins of the bone marrow stroma. Therefore, MSC feeder layer might provide a suitable in vitro model system for the stem cell niche. In vitro assays demonstrate that MSC maintain the stem cell function of HSC and that MSC from bone marrow have a higher hematopoiesis supportive activity than MSC from adipose tissue. Co-cultivation with MSC might pave the way for expansion of long-term repopulating HSC, and various clinical trials indicate that co-transplantation of HSC and MSC might enhance engraftment. Thus, MSC are promising tools to elucidate the underlying mechanism of the cellular microenvironment. The large variety of preparative protocols for isolation and cultivation of MSC affects their stromal activity. Standardized isolation methods and molecular characterization of MSC are of utmost importance for reproducible isolation of hematopoiesis supportive stromal cells and for their potential clinical application.
PMCID: PMC3083286  PMID: 21547116
Mesenchymal stem cell; Culture conditions; Microenvironment; Differentiation; Hematopoietic stem cells; Cell-cell interaction
12.  Regulation of Hematopoietic Stem Cell Activity by Inflammation 
Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are quiescent cells with self-renewal capacity and the ability to generate all mature blood cells. HSCs normally reside in specialized niches in the bone marrow that help maintain their quiescence and long-term repopulating activity. There is emerging evidence that certain cytokines induced during inflammation have significant effects on HSCs in the bone marrow. Type I and II interferons, tumor necrosis factor, and lipopolysaccharide (LPS) directly stimulate HSC proliferation and differentiation, thereby increasing the short-term output of mature effector leukocytes. However, chronic inflammatory cytokine signaling can lead to HSC exhaustion and may contribute the development of hematopoietic malignancies. Pro-inflammatory cytokines such as G-CSF can also indirectly affect HSCs by altering the bone marrow microenvironment, disrupting the stem cell niche, and leading to HSC mobilization into the blood. Herein, we review our current understanding of the effects of inflammatory mediators on HSCs, and we discuss the potential clinical implications of these findings with respect to bone marrow failure and leukemogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3715736  PMID: 23882270
inflammation; hematopoietic stem cells; toll-like receptors; tumor necrosis factor; interferon
13.  Haematopoietic stem cells and early lymphoid progenitors occupy distinct bone marrow niches 
Nature  2013;495(7440):231-235.
While haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are commonly assumed to reside within a specialized microenvironment, or niche1, most published experimental manipulations of the HSC niche have also impacted the function of diverse restricted progenitors. This raises the fundamental question of whether HSCs1 and restricted progenitors2,3 reside within distinct, specialized niches or whether they share a common niche. Here we assess the physiological sources of the chemokine, CXCL12, for HSC and restricted progenitor maintenance. Cxcl12DsRed knock-in mice showed that Cxcl12 was primarily expressed by perivascular stromal cells and at lower levels by endothelial cells, osteoblasts, and some haematopoietic cells. Conditional deletion of Cxcl12 from haematopoietic cells or Nestin-cre-expressing cells had little or no effect on HSCs or restricted progenitors. Deletion of Cxcl12 from endothelial cells depleted HSCs but not myeloerythroid or lymphoid progenitors. Deletion of Cxcl12 from perivascular stromal cells depleted HSCs and certain restricted progenitors and mobilized these cells into circulation. Deletion of Cxcl12 from osteoblasts depleted certain early lymphoid progenitors, but not HSCs or myeloerythroid progenitors and did not mobilize these cells into circulation. Different stem/progenitor cells thus occupy distinct cellular niches in bone marrow: HSCs in a perivascular niche and early lymphoid progenitors in an endosteal niche.
PMCID: PMC3600153  PMID: 23434755
14.  Self-Renewal of Single Mouse Hematopoietic Stem Cells Is Reduced by JAK2V617F Without Compromising Progenitor Cell Expansion 
PLoS Biology  2013;11(6):e1001576.
In this study, single cell assays and mathematical modeling demonstrate that a single oncogenic point mutation can negatively affect hematopoietic stem cells while leaving progenitor cell expansion intact.
Recent descriptions of significant heterogeneity in normal stem cells and cancers have altered our understanding of tumorigenesis, emphasizing the need to understand how single stem cells are subverted to cause tumors. Human myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) are thought to reflect transformation of a hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) and the majority harbor an acquired V617F mutation in the JAK2 tyrosine kinase, making them a paradigm for studying the early stages of tumor establishment and progression. The consequences of activating tyrosine kinase mutations for stem and progenitor cell behavior are unclear. In this article, we identify a distinct cellular mechanism operative in stem cells. By using conditional knock-in mice, we show that the HSC defect resulting from expression of heterozygous human JAK2V617F is both quantitative (reduced HSC numbers) and qualitative (lineage biases and reduced self-renewal per HSC). The defect is intrinsic to individual HSCs and their progeny are skewed toward proliferation and differentiation as evidenced by single cell and transplantation assays. Aged JAK2V617F show a more pronounced defect as assessed by transplantation, but mice that transform reacquire competitive self-renewal ability. Quantitative analysis of HSC-derived clones was used to model the fate choices of normal and JAK2-mutant HSCs and indicates that JAK2V617F reduces self-renewal of individual HSCs but leaves progenitor expansion intact. This conclusion is supported by paired daughter cell analyses, which indicate that JAK2-mutant HSCs more often give rise to two differentiated daughter cells. Together these data suggest that acquisition of JAK2V617F alone is insufficient for clonal expansion and disease progression and causes eventual HSC exhaustion. Moreover, our results show that clonal expansion of progenitor cells provides a window in which collaborating mutations can accumulate to drive disease progression. Characterizing the mechanism(s) of JAK2V617F subclinical clonal expansions and the transition to overt MPNs will illuminate the earliest stages of tumor establishment and subclone competition, fundamentally shifting the way we treat and manage cancers.
Author Summary
Recent descriptions of the existence of significant heterogeneity in normal stem cells and cancers have altered our understanding of tumorigenesis, emphasizing the need to understand how single stem cells are subverted to cause tumours. In this study, we focus on understanding the stem cell defect that results from a mutation in the JAK2 tyrosine kinase gene, which is present in the majority of patients with myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs), a group of clonal bone marrow diseases that are characterised by the overproduction of mature blood cells and increased frequency of leukaemia development. By using single-cell assays and mathematical modeling, followed by the individual assessment of daughter cells from single HSCs, we identify a distinct cellular mechanism that differentially affects stem cell and progenitor cell expansion. Specifically, we show that this single point mutation can negatively affect HSCs while leaving progenitor cell expansion intact. Characterising the mechanisms that link JAK2 mutations with clonal expansions that eventually lead to development of MPNs will inform our understanding of the earliest stages of tumour establishment and of the competition between subclones of proliferating progenitor/stem cells. These findings have direct relevance to all cancers of a suspected stem cell origin.
PMCID: PMC3672217  PMID: 23750118
15.  CD44 standard and CD44v10 isoform expression on leukemia cells distinctly influences niche embedding of hematopoietic stem cells 
A blockade of CD44 is considered a therapeutic option for the elimination of leukemia initiating cells. However, anti-panCD44 can interfere with hematopoiesis. Therefore we explored, whether a CD44 variant isoform (CD44v)-specific antibody can inhibit leukemia growth without attacking hematopoiesis. As a model we used CD44v10 transfected EL4 thymoma cells (EL4-v10).
The therapeutic efficacy of anti-panCD44 and anti-CD44v10 was evaluated after intravenous application of EL4/EL4-v10. Ex vivo and in vitro studies evaluated the impact of anti-panCD44 and anti-CD44v10 as well as of EL4 and EL4-v10 on hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) in cocultures with bone marrow stroma cells with a focus on adhesion, migration, cell cycle progression and apoptosis resistance.
Intravenously injected EL4-v10 grow in bone marrow and spleen. Anti-panCD44 and, more pronounced anti-CD44v10 prolong the survival time. The higher efficacy of anti-CD44v10 compared to anti-panCD44 does not rely on stronger antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity or on promoting EL4-v10 apoptosis. Instead, EL4 compete with HSC niche embedding. This has consequences on quiescence and apoptosis-protecting signals provided by the stroma. Anti-panCD44, too, more efficiently affected embedding of HSC than of EL4 in the bone marrow stroma. EL4-v10, by catching osteopontin, migrated on bone marrow stroma and did not or weakly interfere with HSC adhesion. Anti-CD44v10, too, did not affect the HSC – bone marrow stroma crosstalk.
The therapeutic effect of anti-panCD44 and anti-CD44v10 is based on stimulation of antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity. The superiority of anti-CD44v10 is partly due to blocking CD44v10-stimulated osteopontin expression that could drive HSC out of the niche. However, the main reason for the superiority of anti-CD44v10 relies on neither EL4-v10 nor anti-CD44v10 severely interfering with HSC – stroma cell interactions that, on the other hand, are affected by EL4 and anti-panCD44. Anti-panCD44 disturbing HSC embedding in the osteogenic niche weakens its therapeutic effect towards EL4. Thus, as far as leukemic cells express CD44v isoforms, the therapeutic use of anti-panCD44 should be avoided in favor of CD44v-specific antibodies.
PMCID: PMC4022365  PMID: 24684724
Leukemia; Antibody therapy; CD44v10; Hematopoiesis; Bone marrow stroma
16.  Fucose-Deficient Hematopoietic Stem Cells Have Decreased Self-Renewal and Aberrant Marrow Niche Occupancy 
Transfusion  2010;50(12):2660-2669.
Modification of Notch receptors by O-linked fucose and its further elongation by the Fringe family of glycosyltransferase has been shown to be important for Notch signaling activation. Our recent studies disclose a myeloproliferative phenotype, hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) dysfunction, and abnormal Notch signaling in mice deficient in FX, which is required for fucosylation of a number of proteins including Notch. The purpose of this study is to assess the self-renewal and stem cell niche features of fucose-deficient HSCs.
Homeostasis and maintenance of HSCs derived from FX-/- mice were studied by serial bone marrow transplantation, homing assay, and cell cycle analysis. Two-photon intravital microscopy was performed to visualize and compare the in vivo marrow niche occupancy by fucose-deficient and wild type (WT) HSCs.
Marrow progenitors from FX-/- mice had mild homing defects that could be partially prevented by exogenous fucose supplementation. Fucose-deficient HSCs from FX-/- mice displayed decreased self-renewal capability compared with the WT controls. This is accompanied with their increased cell cycling activity and suppressed Notch ligand binding. When tracked in vivo by 2-photon intravital imaging, the fucose-deficient HSCs were found localized further from the endosteum of the calvarium marrow than the WT HSCs.
The current reported aberrant niche occupancy by HSCs from FX-/- mice, in the context of a faulty blood lineage homeostasis and HSC dysfunction in mice expressing Notch receptors deficient in O-fucosylation, suggests that fucosylation modified Notch receptor may represent a novel extrinsic regulator for HSC engraftment and HSC niche maintenance.
PMCID: PMC2946970  PMID: 20573072
17.  Hematopoietic stem cells: interplay with immunity 
Ample evidence indicated that hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) receive signaling from infection or other immune responses to adjust their differentiation and self-renewal. More recent reports also suggested that, while the bone marrow microenvironment or niche may provide the immune privilege for HSCs, HSCs can present surface immune inhibitors per se to suppress innate immunity and adaptive immunity to evade potential immune surveillance and attack. These findings support the hypothesis that HSCs are capable of interacting with the immune system as signal “receivers” and signal “providers”. On the one hand, HSCs are capable of directly sensing the signals from the immune system through their surface receptors to modulate their self-renewal and differentiation (“in” signaling); on the other hand, HSCs display surface immune inhibitory molecules to evade the attack from the innate and adaptive immune systems (“out” signaling). The continuing investigation of the interplay between HSCs and immunity may lead to the open-up of a new research filed – the immunology of stem cells.
PMCID: PMC3512180  PMID: 23226622
Hematopoietic stem cells; immunity; immune privilege; CD47; CD274; LILRB2; PIR-B; immune inhibitory receptors; infection; inflammation
18.  Fak Depletion in Both Hematopoietic and Non-hematopoietic Niche cells Leads to Hematopoietic Stem Cell Expansion 
Experimental Hematology  2011;40(4):307-317.e3.
Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) reside in complex bone marrow (BM) microenvironments where niche-induced signals regulate hematopoiesis. Focal adhesion kinase (Fak) is a non-receptor protein tyrosine kinase, which plays an essential role in many cell types, where its activation controls adhesion, motility and survival. Fak expression is relatively increased in HSCs compared to progenitors and mature blood cells. Therefore we explored its role in HSC homeostasis. We have used the Mx1-Cre inducible conditional knockout mouse model to investigate the effects of Fak deletion in bone marrow compartments. Results. The total number as well as the fraction of cycling Lin-Sca-1+c-kit+ (LSK) cells is increased in Fak−/− mice, compared to controls, while hematopoietic progenitors and mature blood cells are unaffected. BM cells from Fak−/− mice exhibit enhanced, long-term (i.e. 20 week duration) engraftment in competitive transplantation assays. Intrinsic Fak function was assessed in serial transplantation assays, which showed that HSCs (Lin-Sca-1+c-kit +CD34-Flk-2-cells) sorted from Fak−/− mice have similar self-renewal and engraftment ability on a per cell basis as wild type HSCs. When Fak deletion is induced following engraftment of Fakfl/flMx1-Cre+ BM cells into wild type recipient mice, the number of LSKs is unchanged. In conclusion, Fak inactivation does not intrinsically regulate HSC behavior and is not essential for steady-state hematopoiesis. However, widespread Fak inactivation in the hematopoietic system induces an increased and activated HSC pool size, potentially as a result of altered reciprocal interactions between HSCs and their microenvironment.
PMCID: PMC3307834  PMID: 22155722
Focal adhesion kinase; Hematopoietic stem cell; Homeostasis; Engraftment
19.  Plasticity and Maintenance of Hematopoietic Stem Cells During Development 
Maintenance of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) pool depends on fine balance between self-renewal and differentiation of HSCs. HSCs normally reside within the bone marrow niche of an adult mammal. The embryonic development of HSCs is a complex process that involves the migration of developing HSCs in multiple anatomical sites. Throughout the process, developing HSCs receive internal (transcriptional program) and external (HSC niche) signals, which direct them to maintain balance between self-renewal and differentiation, also to generate a pool of HSCs. In physiological condition HSCs differentiate into all mature cell types present in the blood. However, in pathological condition they may differentiate into non-hematological cells according to the need of the body. It was shown that HSCs can transdifferentiate into cell types that do not belong to the hematopoietic system suggests a complete paradigm shift of the hierarchical hematopoietic tree. This review describes the developmental origins and regulation of HSCs focusing on developmental signals that induce the adult hematopoietic stem cell program, as these informations are very critical for manipulating conditions for expansion of HSCs in ex vivo condition. This review also states clinical application and related patents using HSC.
PMCID: PMC3294454  PMID: 21517745
Hematopoietic stem cells; embryonic development; regulation; self-renewal; differentiation; transdifferentiation; clinical application; patents
20.  Differential Regulation of CXCL5 by FGF2 in Osteoblastic and Endothelial Niche Cells Supports Hematopoietic Stem Cell Migration 
Stem Cells and Development  2012;21(18):3391-3402.
Stem cell maintenance requires a specific microenvironment. Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are mainly maintained by the endosteal osteoblast (OB) niche, which provides a quiescent HSC microenvironment, and the vascular niche, which regulates the proliferation, differentiation, and mobilization of HSCs. The systemic administration of FGF2 failed to induce normal hematopoiesis in bone marrow (BM) by reducing SDF-1, an important factor for hematopoiesis. Interestingly, SDF-1 levels were decreased in the OBs, but increased in vascular endothelial C166 cells when FGF2 was administered. We hypothesized that FGF2 induces changes in HSC migration from BM; therefore, we investigated FGF2-induced factors of HSC migration by a microarray chip. We searched the genes that were decreased in primary OBs, but increased in C166 cells upon FGF2 treatment. We confirmed selected genes that function in the extracellular region and identified the CXCR2-related chemokine candidate LIX/Cxcl5. A chemotaxis assay showed that CXCL5 induced the migration of HSCs (CD34−/lowLSK). Our data suggest that the differential regulation of the chemokine CXCL5 between OBs and endothelial cells upon FGF2 treatment is involved in HSC mobilization from the OB niche or BM to peripheral blood.
PMCID: PMC3516420  PMID: 22827607
21.  Feedback Signals in Myelodysplastic Syndromes: Increased Self-Renewal of the Malignant Clone Suppresses Normal Hematopoiesis 
PLoS Computational Biology  2014;10(4):e1003599.
Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are triggered by an aberrant hematopoietic stem cell (HSC). It is, however, unclear how this clone interferes with physiologic blood formation. In this study, we followed the hypothesis that the MDS clone impinges on feedback signals for self-renewal and differentiation and thereby suppresses normal hematopoiesis. Based on the theory that the MDS clone affects feedback signals for self-renewal and differentiation and hence suppresses normal hematopoiesis, we have developed a mathematical model to simulate different modifications in MDS-initiating cells and systemic feedback signals during disease development. These simulations revealed that the disease initiating cells must have higher self-renewal rates than normal HSCs to outcompete normal hematopoiesis. We assumed that self-renewal is the default pathway of stem and progenitor cells which is down-regulated by an increasing number of primitive cells in the bone marrow niche – including the premature MDS cells. Furthermore, the proliferative signal is up-regulated by cytopenia. Overall, our model is compatible with clinically observed MDS development, even though a single mutation scenario is unlikely for real disease progression which is usually associated with complex clonal hierarchy. For experimental validation of systemic feedback signals, we analyzed the impact of MDS patient derived serum on hematopoietic progenitor cells in vitro: in fact, MDS serum slightly increased proliferation, whereas maintenance of primitive phenotype was reduced. However, MDS serum did not significantly affect colony forming unit (CFU) frequencies indicating that regulation of self-renewal may involve local signals from the niche. Taken together, we suggest that initial mutations in MDS particularly favor aberrant high self-renewal rates. Accumulation of primitive MDS cells in the bone marrow then interferes with feedback signals for normal hematopoiesis – which then results in cytopenia.
Author Summary
Myelodysplastic syndromes are diseases which are characterized by ineffective blood formation. There is accumulating evidence that they are caused by an aberrant hematopoietic stem cell. However, it is yet unclear how this malignant clone suppresses normal hematopoiesis. To this end, we generated mathematical models under the assumption that feedback signals regulate self-renewal and proliferation of normal and diseased stem cells. The simulations demonstrate that the malignant cells must have particularly higher self-renewal rates than normal stem cells – rather than higher proliferation rates. On the other hand, down-regulation of self-renewal by the increasing number of malignant cells in the bone marrow niche can explain impairment of normal blood formation. In fact, we show that serum of patients with myelodysplastic syndrome, as compared to serum of healthy donors, stimulates proliferation and moderately impacts on maintenance of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells in vitro. Thus, aberrant high self-renewal rates of the malignant clone seem to initiate disease development; suppression of normal blood formation is then caused by a rebound effect of feedback signals which down-regulate self-renewal of normal stem and progenitor cells as well.
PMCID: PMC3998886  PMID: 24763223
22.  Inhibition of p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Promotes Ex Vivo Hematopoietic Stem Cell Expansion 
Stem Cells and Development  2011;20(7):1143-1152.
Hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) self-renewal is tightly regulated by a complex crosstalk between many cell-intrinsic regulators and a variety of extrinsic signals from the stem cell niche. In this study, we examined whether the p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38) is one of the intrinsic regulators that can negatively regulate HSC self-renewal in vitro and whether inhibition of p38 activity with a small molecule inhibitor can promote HSC expansion ex vivo. The results from this study showed that sorted mouse bone marrow Lin−Sca1+c-kit+ cells (LSK+ cells) exhibited selective activation of p38 after culture in a serum-free medium supplemented with 100 ng/mL stem cell factor, thrombopoietin, and Flt3 ligand. The activation of p38 was associated with a significant reduction in HSCs and induction of apoptosis and cellular senescence in LSK+ cells and their progeny. Addition of the specific p38 inhibitor SB203580 (SB, 5 μM) to the culture inhibited the activation of p38 in LSK+ cells, which led to increase in HSC self-renewal and ex vivo expansion as shown by the cobblestone area forming cell assay, competitive repopulation, and serial transplantation. The increase in HSC expansion is likely attributable to SB-mediated inhibition of HSC apoptosis and senescence and upregulation of HoxB4 and CXCR4. These findings suggest that p38 plays an important role in the regulation of HSC self-renewal in vitro and inhibition of p38 activation with a small molecule inhibitor may represent a novel approach to promote ex vivo expansion of HSCs.
PMCID: PMC3121934  PMID: 21198398
23.  Redox Regulation of Stem/Progenitor Cells and Bone Marrow Niche 
Bone marrow (BM)-derived stem and progenitor cell functions including self-renewal, differentiation, survival, migration, proliferation and mobilization are regulated by unique cell-intrinsic signals and -extrinsic signals provided by their microenvironment, also termed the ‘niche’. Reactive oxygen species (ROS), especially hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), play important roles in regulating stem and progenitor cell function in various physiologic and pathologic responses. The low level of H2O2 in quiescent hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) contributes to maintain their stemness, whereas a higher level of H2O2 within HSCs or their niche promotes differentiation, proliferation, migration, and survival of HSCs or stem/progenitor cells. Major sources of ROS are NADPH oxidase and mitochondria. In response to ischemic injury, ROS derived from NADPH oxidase are increased in the BM microenvironment, which is required for hypoxia and HIF1α expression and expansion throughout the BM. This, in turn, promotes progenitor cell expansion and mobilization from BM, leading to reparative neovascularization and tissue repair. In pathophysiological states such as aging, atherosclerosis, heart failure, hypertension and diabetes, excess amounts of ROS create an inflammatory and oxidative microenvironment, which induces cell damage and apoptosis of stem and progenitor cells. Understanding the molecular mechanisms of how ROS regulate the functions of stem and progenitor cells and their niche in physiological and pathological conditions will lead to the development of novel therapeutic strategies.
PMCID: PMC3637653  PMID: 23085514
24.  Mesenchymal and haematopoietic stem cells form a unique bone marrow niche 
Nature  2010;466(7308):829-834.
The cellular constituents forming the haematopoietic stem cell (HSC) niche in the bone marrow are unclear, with studies implicating osteoblasts, endothelial and perivascular cells. Here we demonstrate that mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), identified using nestin expression, constitute an essential HSC niche component. Nestin+ MSCs contain all the bone-marrow colony-forming-unit fibroblastic activity and can be propagated as non-adherent ‘mesenspheres’ that can self-renew and expand in serial transplantations. Nestin+ MSCs are spatially associated with HSCs and adrenergic nerve fibres, and highly express HSC maintenance genes. These genes, and others triggering osteoblastic differentiation, are selectively downregulated during enforced HSC mobilization or β3 adrenoreceptor activation. Whereas parathormone administration doubles the number of bone marrow nestin+ cells and favours their osteoblastic differentiation, in vivo nestin+ cell depletion rapidly reduces HSC content in the bone marrow. Purified HSCs home near nestin+ MSCs in the bone marrow of lethally irradiated mice, whereas in vivo nestin+ cell depletion significantly reduces bone marrow homing of haematopoietic progenitors. These results uncover an unprecedented partnership between two distinct somatic stem-cell types and are indicative of a unique niche in the bone marrow made of heterotypic stem-cell pairs.
PMCID: PMC3146551  PMID: 20703299
25.  The Effects of Zoledronic Acid in the Bone and Vasculature Support of Hematopoietic Stem Cell Niches 
Journal of cellular biochemistry  2013;114(1):67-78.
Hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) are maintained in a tightly regulated bone microenvironment constituted by a rich milieu of cells. Bone cells such as osteoblasts are associated with niche maintenance as regulators of the endosteal microenvironment. Bone remodeling also plays a role in HSC mobilization although it is poorly defined. The effects of zoledronic acid (ZA), a potent bisphosphonate that inhibits bone resorption, were investigated on bone marrow cell populations focusing on HSCs, and the endosteal and vascular niches in bone. ZA treatment significantly increased bone volume and HSCs in both young and adult mice (4 week and 4 month old, respectively). ZA increased vessel numbers with no overall change in vascular volume in bones of young and had no effect on vasculature in adult mice. Since both young and adult mice had increased HSCs and bone mass with differing vasculature responses, this suggests that ZA indirectly supports HSCs via the osteoblastic niche and not the vascular niche. Additionally, gene expression in Lin- cells demonstrated increased expression of self-renewal-related genes Bmi1 and Ink4a suggesting a role of ZA in the modulation of cell commitment and differentiation toward a long-term self-renewing cell. Genes that support the osteoblastic niche, BMP2 and BMP6 were also augmented in ZA treated mice. In conclusion, ZA-induced HSC expansion occurs independent of the vascular niche via indirect modulation of the osteoblastic niche.
PMCID: PMC3593195  PMID: 22833499

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