Multilineage gene expression in human bone marrow stromal cells as evidenced by single-cell microarray analysis

Blood Cells Mol Dis. Sep-Oct 2003;31(2):268-85. doi: 10.1016/s1079-9796(03)00150-5.


The nonhematopoietic stromal cells of the bone marrow are critical for the development of hematopoietic stem cells into functionally competent blood cells. This study addresses the question of whether bone marrow stromal cell cultures in the Dexter system propagate multiple different mesenchymal stromal cell types or one stromal cell type that expresses multiple phenotypes. Results show that isolated single stromal cells simultaneously express transcripts associated with osteoblast, fibroblast, muscle, and adipocyte differentiation. Furthermore, isolated single stromal cells simultaneously express transcripts characteristic of epithelial cells, endothelial cells, and neural/glial cells. Isolated single stromal cells also express transcripts for CD45, CD19, CD10, CD79a, and representative proto-oncogenes and transcription factors, which are typically associated with normal and neoplastic hematopoietic cells. These findings suggest that the nonhematopoietic mesenchymal cells and the hematopoietic B-lymphocytes have a common progenitor. This is consistent with the idea that progenitor cells express genes that are characteristic of the multiple lineage paths that such cells may be capable of adopting. This study demonstrates the technical feasibility of transcriptome analysis of individual primary cell-culture grown stromal cells and supports the concept that bone marrow stromal cells are relatively homogeneous and show a phenotypic signature of potential multilineage differentiation capacity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antigens, CD / genetics
  • Bone Marrow Cells / chemistry
  • Bone Marrow Cells / cytology*
  • Bone Marrow Cells / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Lineage
  • Gene Amplification
  • Gene Expression
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods*
  • Genetic Markers
  • Humans
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis / methods*
  • Phenotype
  • RNA / metabolism
  • Stromal Cells / chemistry
  • Stromal Cells / metabolism*
  • Stromal Cells / ultrastructure


  • Antigens, CD
  • Genetic Markers
  • RNA