The fetal liver is the site of a major expansion of the hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) pool and is also a privileged organ to study megakaryocyte progenitor differentiation. We identified in the mouse fetal liver at day 13.5 a discrete stromal cell population harboring a CD45-TER119-CD31-CD51+VCAM-1+PDGFRα- (V+P-) phenotype that lacked colonyforming unit fibroblast activity and harbored an hepatocyte progenitor signature. This previously undescribed V1P2 population efficiently supported megakaryocyte production from mouse bone marrow HSC and human peripheral blood HSC-myeloid progenitors cultured in the presence of limited cytokine concentrations. Megakaryocytes obtained in V1P2 cocultures were polyploid, positive for CD41/CD42c, and efficiently produced proplatelets. Megakaryocyte production appeared to be mediated by an expansion of the progenitor compartment through HSC-stromal cell contact. In conclusion, the fetal liver contains a unique cellular microenvironment that could represent a platform for the discovery of regulators of megakaryopoiesis.
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