Osteogenic cells were sorted from bone marrow of 5-fluorouracil (5-FU)- treated mice based on light scatter characteristics, Sca-1 expression, and their binding to wheat germ agglutinin (WGA). Four sort gates were established using forward (FSC) and perpendicular (SSC) light scatter and were denominated as FSChigh SSClow, FSClow SSChigh, FSClow SSClow, and FSChigh SSChigh cell. Cells from the FSChigh SSChigh gate, but not from the other gates, synthesized alkaline phosphatase, collagen, and osteocalcin and formed a mineralized matrix in culture. The number of osteoprogenitor cells was significantly enriched after depleting the 5- FU bone marrow from cells of the lymphoid and myeloid lineage, eg, T cells, B cells, natural killer cells, granulocytes, macrophages, and erythrocytes. Approximately 95% of the FSChigh SSChigh cell population of this “lineage-negative” (Lin-) marrow expressed the Sca-1 antigen (Sca-1+) and bound WGA. Three additional sort windows were established based on WGA binding intensity and were denominated as Sca-1+ WGAdull, Sca-1+ WGAmedium, and Sca-1+ WGAbright. Cells from the Sca-1+ WGAbright gate, but not from the other gates, synthesized bone proteins and formed a mineralized matrix. However, they lost this capacity upon subcultivation. Further immunophenotypic characterization showed that FSChigh SSChigh Lin- Sca-1+ WGAbright cells expressed stromal (KM16) and endothelial (Sab-1 and Sab-2) markers, but not hematopoietic surface markers such as c-kit and Thy1.2. Sorted FSChigh SSChigh Lin- Sca-1+ WGAbright cells form three-dimensional nodules that stain with the von Kossa technique and contain osteoblast and osteocyte-like cells.

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