Blood 2002 Apr;99(8):2760-6
Basel Institute for Immunology, Switzerland.
Self-renewal, pluripotency, and long-term reconstitution are defining characteristics of single hematopoietic stem cells. Pax5(-/-) precursor B cells apparently possess similar characteristics. Here, using serial transplantations, with in vitro recloning and growth of the bone marrow-homed donor cells occurring after all transplantations, we analyzed the extent of self-renewal and hematopoietic multipotency of Pax5(-/-) precursor B-cell clones. Moreover, telomere length and telomerase activity in these clones was analyzed at various time points. Thus far, 5 successive transplantations have been performed. Clones transplanted for the fifth time, which have proliferated for more than 150 cell divisions in vitro, still repopulate the bone marrow with precursor B cells and reconstitute these recipients with lymphoid and myeloid cells. During this extensive proliferation, Pax5(-/-) precursor B cells shorten their telomeres at 70 to 90 base pairs per division. Their telomerase activity remains at 3% of that of HEK293 cancer cells during all serial in vivo transplantations/in vitro expansions. Together, these data show that Pax5(-/-) precursor B-cell clones possess extensive in vivo self-renewal capacity, long-term reconstitution capacity, and hematopoietic multipotency, with their telomeres shortening at the normal rate.