A panel of ten monoclonal antibodies which react with antigens present on the surface of myeloid leukemic cells was used to investigate the distribution of these antigens on normal hemopoietic stem cells and progenitor cells at various stages of maturity. A population of immature cells, possibly stem cells, that are capable of regenerating CFU-GM in long-term marrow cultures reacts with four antibodies recognizing antigens abundantly expressed in leukemic cells, but does not react with antibodies against Ia-like molecules or against carbohydrate determinants specific for myeloid cells. Progenitor cells that form mixed colonies in semisolid medium (CFU-GEMM), early erythroid (BFU-E) and early myelomonocytic (type 1 CFU-GM) progenitors retain the antigens present on the hypothetical stem cell population and begin to express Ia-like antigens. As they differentiate, myeloid and erythroid progenitors undergo a series of quantitative and qualitative shifts in surface phenotype. They begin to express stage- related, lineage-specific antigens and cease expressing antigens common to early cells of different lineages. The identification of antigens present on very immature normal progenitor cells should be valuable in future studies aimed at the detailed characterization of this relatively little-known hemopoietic cell population.

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