Hematopoietic stem cell activity in inbred NZB and NZC mice has been determined by transplantation and endogenous spleen colony assays. Whereas NZB mice show normal colony-forming unit (CFU) activity in the transplantation assay, they show markedly elevated endogenous CFU. NZC mice also show this markedly elevated endogenous CFU activity, but in the transplantation assay show only about 5–10% of normal CFU counts. When NZC stem cells are tested for CFU activity in irradiated recipients of the H-2d type, almost normal colony numbers occur. NZB stem cells however also cannot form colonies in NZC mice. These results suggest that NZC mice have a defect in the micro-environment of the spleen which renders them incapable of allowing transplanted CFU to form colonies.
Genetic analysis of both the NZC defect as a CFU recipient, and the elevated endogenous count in NZB and NZC, shows that both are controlled by single recessive genes which are not linked to either coat color, agouti, H-2 or Ig loci. Of even more relevance is the finding that these hematopoietic abnormalities are not linked to the genes involved in controlling autoantibody formation to red cells in the NZB mice. These mice therefore appear to show two distinct hematopoietic abnormalities, the analysis of which may be of considerable value in understanding the detailed events of hematopoietic stem cell differentiation.