Cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix interactions between hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and their niches are critical for the maintenance of stem cell properties. Here, it is demonstrated that a cell adhesion molecule, N-cadherin, is expressed in hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells (HSPCs) and plays a critical role in the regulation of HSPC engraftment. Furthermore, overexpression of N-cadherin in HSCs promoted quiescence and preserved HSC activity during serial bone marrow (BM) transplantation (BMT). Inhibition of N-cadherin by the transduction of N-cadherin short hairpin (sh) RNA (shN-cad) reduced the lodgment of donor HSCs to the endosteal surface, resulting in a significant reduction in long-term engraftment. shN-cad-transduced cells were maintained in the spleen for six months after BMT, indicating that N-cadherin expression in HSCs is specifically required in the BM. These findings suggest that N-cadherin-mediated cell adhesion is functionally essential for the regulation of HSPC activities in the BM niche.
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