Adhesion molecules are required for development of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells in the respective hematopoietic microenvironments. We previously showed that development of the erythroid progenitor cells is dependent on their direct adhesion to the stroma cells established from the erythropoietic organs. In this stroma-dependent erythropoiesis, we examined the role of adhesion molecules in erythropoiesis by blocking antibodies. The development of the erythroid cells on stroma cells was inhibited by anti-very late activation antigen-4 (VLA-4 integrin) antibody, but not by anti-VLA-5 antibody, although the erythroid cells express both VLA-4 and VLA-5. Whereas high levels of expression of vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) and fibronectin, ligands for VLA-4, were detected in the stroma cells, the adhesion and development of the erythroid progenitor cells were partly inhibited by the blocking antibody against VCAM-1. VLA-5 and fibronectin could mediate adhesion of the erythroid progenitor cells to the stromal cells, but the adhesion itself may not be sufficient for the stroma-supported erythropoiesis. The stromal cells may support erythroid development by the adhesion through a new ligand molecule(s) for VLA-4 in addition to VCAM-1, and such collaborative interaction may provide adequate signaling for the erythroid progenitor cells in the erythropoietic microenvironment.

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