A simple procedure is described for the quantitation and enrichment of murine hematopoietic cells with the capacity for long-term repopulation of lymphoid and myeloid tissues in lethally irradiated mice. To ensure detection of the most primitive marrow cells with this potential, we used a competitive assay in which female recipients were injected with male “test” cells and 1 to 2 x 10(5) “compromised” female marrow cells with normal short-term repopulating ability, but whose long-term repopulating ability had been reduced by serial transplantation. Primitive hematopoietic cells were purified by flow cytometry and sorting based on their forward and orthogonal light-scattering properties, and Thy-1 and H-2K antigen expression. Enrichment profiles for normal marrow, and marrow of mice injected with 5-fluorouracil (5- FU) four days previously, were established for each of these parameters using an in vitro assay for high proliferative potential, pluripotent colony-forming cells. When all four parameters were gated simultaneously, these clonogenic cells were enriched 100-fold. Both day 9 and day 12 CFU-S were copurified; however, the purity (23%) and enrichment (75-fold) of day 12 CFU-S in the sorted population was greater with 5-FU-treated cells. Five hundred of the sorted 5-FU marrow cells consistently repopulated recipient lymphoid and myeloid tissues (greater than 50% male, 1 to 3 months post-transplant) when co-injected with 1 to 2 x 10(5) compromised female marrow cells, and approximately 100 were sufficient to achieve the same result in 50% of recipients under the same conditions. This relatively simple purification and assay strategy should facilitate further analysis of the heterogeneity and regulation of stem cells that maintain hematopoiesis in vivo.

This content is only available as a PDF.