The c-myb protooncogene plays a major role in regulating the process of in vitro and in vivo hematopoiesis via its activity as transcriptional regulator in hematopoietic progenitor cells. Since the bone marrow microenvironment appears to regulate in vivo hematopoiesis by maintaining the growth of multipotent progenitors via secretion of specific cytokines, we asked whether c-myb is also required for the proliferation of and/or cytokine production by stromal cells that generate fibroblast-like colonies (fibroblast colony-forming units [CFU-F]). Using the reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction technique, we detected low levels of c-myb mRNA transcripts in human normal bone marrow fibroblasts. Treatment of these cells with c-myb antisense oligodeoxynucleotides caused downregulation of c-myb expression, decreased in the number of marrow CFU-F colonies (approximately 54% inhibition) and in the cell number within residual colonies (approximately 80%), and downregulation of granulocyte/macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) and stem cell factor (SCF) mRNA expression. Transfection of T98G glioblastoma cells, in which expression of c-myb, GM-CSF, and SCF mRNAs is undetectable or barely detectable, with a plasmid containing a full-length c-myb cDNA under the control of the SV40 promoter induced the expression of biologically active SCF and GM-CSF in these cells. Regulation of GM-CSF expression by c-myb was due in part to transactivation of the GM-CSF promoter. These results indicate that, in addition to regulating hematopoietic cell proliferation, c-myb is also required for proliferation of and cytokines synthesis by bone marrow fibroblasts.

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