Cytokines are known to be important regulators of normal hemopoiesis, acting in concert with components of the bone marrow microenvironment. Interactions with this microenvironment are known to regulate the proliferation, differentiation, and homing of hemopoietic progenitor (CD34+) cells. Adhesive interactions with the extracellular matrix retain CD34+ cells in close proximity to cytokines, but may also provide important costimulatory signals. Thus, the functional states of adhesion receptors are critical properties of CD34+ cells, but the physiological mechanisms responsible for regulating functional properties of cell adhesion receptors on primitive hemopoietic cells are still unknown. We confirm that the integrins very late antigen (VLA)-4 and VLA-5 are expressed on the CD34+ cell lines MO7e, TF1, and on normal bone marrow CD34+ progenitor cells, but in a low affinity state, conferring on them a weak adhesive phenotype on fibronectin (Fn). Herein, we show that the cytokines interleukin (IL)-3, granulocyte-macrophage CSF (GM-CSF), and KIT ligand (KL) are physiological activators of VLA-4 and VLA-5 expressed by MO7e, TF1, and normal bone marrow CD34+ progenitor cells. Cytokine-stimulated adhesion on Fn is dose dependent and transient, reaching a maximum between 15 and 30 min and returning to basal levels after 2 h. This cytokine-dependent activation is specific for VLA-4 and VLA-5, since activation of other beta 1 integrins was not observed. The addition of second messenger antagonists staurosporine and W7 abolished all cytokine-stimulated adhesion to Fn. In contrast, genistein inhibited KL-stimulated adhesion, but failed to inhibit GM-CSF- and IL-3-stimulated adhesion. Our data suggest that cytokines GM-CSF and IL-3 specifically stimulate beta 1 integrin function via an "inside-out" mechanism involving protein kinase activity, while KL stimulates integrin activity through a similar, but initially distinct, pathway via the KIT tyrosine-kinase. Thus, in addition to promoting the survival, proliferation, and development of hemopoietic progenitors, cytokines also regulate adhesive interactions between progenitor cells and the bone marrow microenvironment by modifying the functional states of specific integrins. These data are of importance in understanding the fundamental processes of beta 1 integrin activation and cellular response to mitogenic cytokines as well as on the clinical setting where cytokines induce therapeutic mobilization of hematopoietic progenitors.

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