Megakaryocytes and their precursor cells were sustained in mouse bone marrow suspension cultures for over 4–6 wk. Megakaryocyte precursor cells were detected by their capacity to form colonies of megakaryocytes in semisolid agar cultures. Colony formation was dependent on the presence of medium conditioned by a myelomonocytic leukemic cell line (WEHI-3CM). Megakaryocytes from the liquid and semisolid cultures were identified by cytoplasmic acetylcholine esterase and by ultrastructural analysis. The suspension medium from the bone marrow liquid cultures which sustained megakaryopoiesis was not directly acitive in stimulating megakaryocyte colony formation in the semisolid agar cultures, but potentiated the number of colonies detected when WEHI-3CM was present. Bone marrow-conditioned medium increased the sensitivity of megakaryocyte progenitor cells to the stimulus in WEHI-3CM. Addition of the activities present in the two sources produced a quantitative assay for the detection of mouse megakaryocyte progenitor cells. These studies showed: (1) that no inductive regulator of in vitro clones of megakaryocytes was present in the supernatants from the long-term marrow cultures and, (2) that at least two factors were necessary for the induction of megakaryocyte progenitors to proliferate and differentiate in semisolid cultures in vitro.
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