Bone marrow (BM) stromal cells, which include macrophages, fibroblasts, endothelial cells, and adipocytes, have been shown to produce several factors that modulate the growth of BM progenitors. Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) is a fibroblast-derived factor and has recently been shown to be a ligand for the c-met proto-oncogene, a member of the receptor class of tyrosine kinases. c-met messenger RNA (mRNA) is predominantly expressed in epithelial cells, but has been detected in several murine hematopoietic progenitor cell lines, suggesting that HGF and met might function during hematopoiesis. Here, BM cells were found to express both met mRNA and protein. Moreover, HGF was shown to synergize with interleukin-3 and granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor to stimulate colony formation of hematopoietic progenitor cells in vitro. These results show that, in addition to its activity on epithelial cells, HGF is a new member of the functionally related group of factors that modulate hematopoiesis.

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