The preadipose cell line, PA6, can support long-term hemopoiesis. Frequency of the hemopoietic stem cells capable of sustaining hemopoiesis in cocultures of bone marrow cells and PA6 cells for 6 wk was 1/5.3 x 10(4) bone marrow cells. In the group of dishes into which bone marrow cells had been inoculated at 2.5 x 10(4) cells/dish, 3 of 19 dishes (16%) contained stem cells capable of reconstituting erythropoiesis of WBB6F1-W/Wv mice, indicating that PA6 cells can support the proliferation of primitive hemopoietic stem cells. When the cocultures were treated with an antagonistic anti-c-kit monoclonal antibody, ACK2, only a small number of day 12 spleen colony-forming units survived; and hemopoiesis was severely reduced. However, when the cocultures were continued with antibody-free medium, hemopoiesis dramatically recovered. To examine the proliferative properties of the ACK2-resistant stem cells, we developed a colony assay system by modifying our coculture system. Sequential observations of the development of individual colonies and their disappearance demonstrated that the stem cells having higher proliferative capacity preferentially survive the ACK2 treatment. Furthermore, cells of subclones of the PA6 clone that were incapable of supporting long-term hemopoiesis expressed mRNA for the c-kit ligand. These results suggest that a mechanism(s) other than that involving c-kit receptor and its ligand plays an important role in the survival and proliferation of primitive hemopoietic stem cells.

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