Hematopoietic stem and progenitor cell (HSPC) transplantation is a curative treatment of hematological disorders that has been utilized for several decades. Although umbilical cord blood (UCB) is a promising source of HSPCs, the low dose of HSPCs in these preparations limits their use, prompting need for ex vivo HSPC expansion. To establish a more efficient method to expand UCB HSPCs, we developed the bioactive peptide named SL-13R and cultured UCB HSPCs (CD34+ cells) with SL-13R in animal component-free medium containing a cytokine cocktail. Following 9 days of culture with SL-13R, the numbers of total cells, CD34+, CD38− cells, and hematopoietic stem cell (HSC)-enriched cells were significantly increased relative to control. Transplantation of cells cultured with SL-13R into immunodeficient NOD/Shi-scid/IL-2Rγ knockout mice confirmed that they possess long-term reconstitution and self-renewal ability. AHNAK, ANXA2, and PLEC all interact with SL-13R. Knockdown of these genes in UCB CD34+ cells resulted in reduced numbers of hematopoietic colonies relative to SL-13R-treated and non-knockdown controls. In summary, we have identified a novel bioactive peptide SL-13R promoting expansion of UCB CD34+ cells with long-term reconstitution and self-renewal ability, suggesting its clinical use in the future.
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