Steel factor supports the cycling of isolated human CD34+ cells in the absence of other growth factors

S. D. Gore, S. Amin, L. J. Weng, C. I. Civin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Steel factor (SF) acts synergistically with other hematopoietic growth factors to support the proliferation of progenitor cells in a variety of culture systems. To determine whether SF alone could directly stimulate proliferation of early hematopoietic progenitor cells, isolated CD34+ cells from adult bone marrow and umbilical cord blood were studied in a short-term suspension culture in serum-free medium. Numbers of CD34+ and proliferating cells were quantified by flow cytometry; proliferation was assessed by simultaneous measurement of expression of the nuclear antigen Ki67 and DNA content (propidium iodide [PI]). In the absence of growth factors, the numbers of CD34+ and cycling cells declined over 2 days. Cells cultured in the presence of SF alone maintained the number of CD34+ and cycling cells at levels equal to the starting population. Withdrawal of growth factors led to a dramatic decrease in the number of cells in G1. Compared to cells grown in the absence of growth factors, cells grown in the presence of SF had significantly higher numbers of CD34+ and cycling cells (mean fold increase = 1.3 and 2; p < 0.05 and 0.01, respectively). SF increased the numbers of cells in both G1 and later phases of the cell cycle. Addition of interleukin-3 (IL-3) to SF led to further significant increases in CD34+ and cycling cells. The effects of SI: could not be attributed to inhibition of apoptosis. CD34+ cells isolated from peripheral blood (PB) from patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) displayed similar characteristics. As assessed by binding of phycoerythrin (PE)-labeled ligand and flow cytometry, c-kit was expressed on 65 ± 6% of isolated CD34+ cells and was detected on HLA-DR(low), CD38(low), and Thy1+ subsets, as well as on more mature progenitor cells. Thus, while the effects of SF are most marked in combination with other growth factors, SF appears to bind to and directly maintain the active cell-cycle characteristics of isolated CD34+ cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)413-421
Number of pages9
JournalExperimental Hematology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • CD34
  • Cell cycle
  • Ki67
  • Steel factor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Hematology
  • Genetics
  • Cell Biology
  • Cancer Research


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