The expression of HLA-DR antigenic determinants on human hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPC) capable of differentiating into mature blood cells, as determined in semisolid cultures, has been demonstrated previously (3-7). Here, we investigated the expression of class II determinants on HPC responsible for the sustained proliferation of colony-forming units of granulocyte/macrophage (CFU-GM), of multilineage HPC (CFU-GEMM, granulocyte/erythrocyte/macrophage/megakaryocyte), and burst-forming units of erythroid cells (BFU-E) in liquid long-term cultures. Using both fluorescence-activated cell sorting and complement-dependent cytotoxicity assays, HLA-DR determinants could be identified on virtually all these HPC capable of proliferating in long-term cultures. Experiments in which the stromal layer had been irradiated provided evidence that the HPC themselves were truly HLA-DR+, and that the sustained proliferation of HPC was not due to activation of HLA-DR- residual HPC in the stromal layer by reinoculated HLA-DR+ accessory cells. Furthermore, it was shown that all HPC recognized in semisolid and liquid long-term cultures were HLA-DQ-. These results suggest that the human true pluripotential stem cell is HLA-DR+. These results open the possibility of studying class II-dependent regulation of hematopoiesis in liquid long-term cultures.

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