The idea that stem cells oscillate between a state of activity and dormancy, thereby giving rise to differentiating progeny either randomly or in orderly clonal succession, has important implications for understanding normal hematopoiesis and blood cell dyscrasias. The degree of clonal stability in individuals also has practical implications for the evaluation of clonal lymphomyeloproliferative diseases. To evaluate the clonality pattern of the different types of blood cells as a function of time we have validated the applicability, sensitivity, and reproducibility of a thermostable ligase reaction to detect transcripts of the G6PD allele on the active X-chromosome in normal heterozygous females. While the ratio of the two X-chromosome-derived allelic transcripts varied widely among hemopoietic tissues in a given individual, this allelic ratio was virtually identical in all types of mature myeloid and lymphoid cells. Longitudinal studies indicated constancy of the G6PD allelic ratio in blood cells over a 912-d period of observation in healthy females. The individual variability observed in this allelic ratio suggests that the progeny of a relatively small number of original embryonic hemopoietic stem cells, approximately eight, contribute to the sustained production of all types of blood cells in healthy individuals.

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