The mechanism that regulates the terminal maturation of hematopoietic stem cells into erythroid cells is poorly understood. Therefore, identifying genes and surface markers that are restricted to specific stages of erythroid maturation will further our understanding of erythropoiesis. To identify genes expressed at discrete stages of erythroid development, we screened for genes that contributed to the proliferation and maturation of erythropoietin (EPO)-dependent UT-7/EPO cells. After transducing erythroid cells with a human fetal liver (FL)-derived lentiviral cDNA library and culturing the cells in the absence of EPO, we identified 17 candidate genes that supported erythroid colony formation. In addition, the mouse homologues of these candidate genes were identified and their expression was examined in E12. 5 erythroid populations by qRT-PCR. The expression of candidate erythroid marker was also assessed at the protein level by immunohistochemistry and ELISA. Our study demonstrated that expression of the Apoa-1 gene, an apolipoprotein family member, significantly increased as hematopoietic stem cells differentiated into mature erythroid cells in the mouse FL. The Apoa-1 protein was more abundant in mature erythroid cells than hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells in the mouse FL by ELISA. Moreover, APOA-1 gene expression was detected in mature erythroid cells from human peripheral blood. We conclude that APOA-1 is a novel marker of the terminal erythroid maturation of hematopoietic stem cells in both mice and humans.
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