Proliferation of totipotent hematopoietic stem cells in vitro with retention of long-term competitive in vivo reconstituting ability

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Marrow cells from male mice pretreated with 5-fluorouracil were infected with helper-free neomycin-resistant (neo(r)) recombinant retrovirus and then used to initiate long-term cultures (LTC) on irradiated adherent marrow feeder layers. Four weeks later LTC cells were harvested and injected into lethally irradiated female recipients either alone or together with 2 x 105 female marrow cells with selectively compromised long-term repopulating potential to assay for totipotent and competitive repopulating units (CRU), respectively. A total of 46 unique clones were detected in recipients 5 wk to 7 mo after transplant. Half of these clones (22 of 46) included both lymphoid and myeloid progeny. Eight of the 22 lympho-myeloid clones were represented in multiple recipients, in some cases after injection of limiting numbers of CRU, thus indicating repopulation from sibling totipotent stem cells generated during the initial 4-wk period in LTC. Serial analysis of cells released into the nonadherent fraction of LTC for up to 7 wk provided additional evidence of the continuing proliferation in LTC of totipotent stem cells with long-term repopulating potential. The frequency of CRU determined from limiting-dilution analyses of LTC-derived cells was the same for recipients analyzed at 5 wk or 7 mo after transplantation and was also the same whether marrow or thymus repopulation was assessed. These assays showed that concurrent with the expansion of some totipotent cells revealed by retroviral marking, there was a slow but net 6.5-fold decrease in total CRU numbers after 4 wk in LTC. These results show the capacity of some totipotent hematopoietic stem cells to be maintained and amplified over extensive time periods in vitro without diminution of their long-term in vivo repopulating potential. These results also set the stage for analogous studies of human stem cell selection and expansion in vitro, which may be important for future gene therapy protocols.




Fraser, C. C., Szilvassy, S. J., Eaves, C. J., & Humphries, R. K. (1992). Proliferation of totipotent hematopoietic stem cells in vitro with retention of long-term competitive in vivo reconstituting ability. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 89(5), 1968–1972.

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