ER-MP12 antigen, a new cell surface marker on mouse bone marrow cells with thymus-repopulating ability: II. Thymus-homing ability and phenotypic characterization of ER-MP12-positive bone marrow cells.
Slieker WA., van der Loo JC., de Rijk-de Bruijn MF., Godfrey DI., Leenen PJ., van Ewijk W.
In the accompanying paper we showed that six distinct subsets of bone marrow (BM) cells can be identified using the mAb ER-MP12 and ER-MP20 in two-colour immunofluorescence analysis. Upon intrathymic transfer into sublethally irradiated mice thymus-repopulating ability was restricted to ER-MP20- BM cells expressing either high or intermediate levels of the ER-MP12 antigen (1-2% and approximately 30% of BM nucleated cells respectively). The highest frequency of thymus-repopulating cells was found in the minor subset of ER-MP12(+)+20- BM cells. In the present study we demonstrate that upon intravenous transfer, thymus-homing and -repopulating BM cells are exclusively confined to the ER-MP12(+)+20- and ER-MP12+20- subpopulations, the highest frequency being detected among ER-MP12(+)+20- BM cells. Analysis of the peripheral blood leucocytes of reconstituted mice showed that not only prothymocytes but also progenitor cells of the B cell lineage as well as the myeloid lineage were present within both subsets. Three-colour flow cytometric analysis revealed that ER-MP12(+)+20- BM cells in particular were phenotypically heterogeneous with respect to the expression of the cell surface markers Thy-1, Sca-1, CD44, B220 and c-kit. Taken together our data demonstrate that ER-MP12 positively identifies BM cells with the ability to home to and repopulate the thymus. The phenotypic heterogeneity displayed by the ER-MP12(+)+20- BM subset, containing the highest frequency of thymus-homing and -repopulating cells, provides a basis for further separation of prothymocyte activity from other haematopoietic activities in the BM of the mouse.