Sulfated glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) are distributed in consistent and distinctive patterns between the cell surface and the growth medium of haemopoietically active long-term bone marrow cultures. Heparan sulfate is the main cell surface component and chondroitin sulfate is the major sulfated species in the medium. When the cultures are supplemented with beta-D-xylosides a significant increase in chondroitin sulfate synthesis is observed but no stimulation of heparan sulfate synthesis occurs. The chondroitin sulfate accumulates in the culture medium in beta-D-xyloside-treated cultures but the composition of sulfated GAGs in cell-surface derived material is unaffected. beta-D-xylosides also stimulate the production of haemopoietic cells without any apparent alteration in the adherent stromal cells of the marrow cultures. Equivalent increases are obtained in cells at all stages of development so that a fivefold increase in pluripotent stem cells (CFU-S) is matched by fivefold increase in the granulocyte-macrophage progenitors (GM-CFC) and in mature granulocytes. The stimulation persists for many weeks in beta-D-xyloside-treated cultures. These results indicate that the sulfated GAGs may play an important role in the regulation of haemopoiesis.

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