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Adult hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are maintained in a microenvironment known as the stem cell niche. The regulation of HSCs in fetal liver (FL) and their niche, however, remains to be elucidated. In this study, we investigated the role of N-cadherin (N-cad) in the maintenance of HSCs during FL hematopoiesis. By using anti-N-cad antibodies (Abs) produced by our laboratory, we detected high N-cad expression in embryonic day 12.5 (E12.5) mouse FL HSCs, but not in E15.5 and E18.5 FL. Immunofluorescence staining revealed that N-cad(+)c-Kit(+) and N-cad(+) endothelial protein C receptor (EPCR)(+) HSCs co-localized with Lyve-1(+) sinusoidal endothelial cells (ECs) in E12.5 FL and that some of these cells also expressed N-cad. However, N-cad(+) HSCs were also observed to detach from the perisinusoidal niche at E15.5 and E18.5, concomitant with a down-regulation of N-cad and an up-regulation of E-cadherin (E-cad) in hepatic cells. Moreover, EPCR(+) long-term (LT)-HSCs were enriched in the N-cad(+)Lin(-)Sca-1(+)c-Kit(+) (LSK) fraction in E12.5 FL, but not in E15.5 or E18.5 FL. In a long-term reconstitution (LTR) activity assay, higher engraftment associated with N-cad(+) LSK cells versus N-cad(-) LSK cells in E12.5 FL when transplanted into lethally irradiated recipient mice. However, the higher engraftment of N-cad(+) LSK cells decreased subsequently in E15.5 and E18.5 FL. It is possible that N-cad expression conferred higher LTR activity to HSCs by facilitating interactions with the perisinusoidal niche, especially at E12.5. The down-regulation of N-cad during FL hematopoiesis may help us better understand the regulation and mobility of HSCs before migration into BM. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Hirofumi Toyama, Fumio Arai, Kentaro Hosokawa, Yoshiko Matsumoto Ikushima, Toshio Suda. N-cadherin+ HSCs in fetal liver exhibit higher long-term bone marrow reconstitution activity than N-cadherin- HSCs. Biochemical and biophysical research communications. 2012 Nov 23;428(3):354-9

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PMID: 23092738

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