Erythropoietin, and autocrine regulator? Serum-free production of erythropoietin by cloned erythroid cell lines

W. D. Hankins, J. Schooley, C. Eastment

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Production of lymphoid and myeloid growth regulatory factors by hematopoietic cells is well documented. On the other hand, the major site of production of erythropoietin (Epo), which regulates physiologic red blood cell development, is thought to be the kidney. Here we report the isolation of multiple erythroleukemia cell lines that produce erythropoietic factors and present extensive biological, immunologic, and biochemical evidence to document that the active agent is Epo. The erythropoietic activity was neutralized by Epo antiserum and exhibited physical properties indistinguishable from those of human and sheep Epo. Positive lines produced between 0.1 and 1.5 U/mL of Epo, which stimulated erythropoiesis in vivo and in vitro in nine biological assays. Twenty sublines derived from single cells were inducible for hemoglobin and spectrin synthesis. All the sublines produced Epo. Production of the hormone continued when the cells were seeded in the absence of serum. Our finding that multiple independent isolates produce Epo raises the possibility that Epo production by erythroid precursors may play a role in normal erythropoiesis or, alternatively, that Epo gene activation may be a relatively common occurrence that contributes to, or is associated with, certain forms of virus-induced leukemias.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)263-268
Number of pages6
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1986
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology


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