Quantitative production of macrophages or neutrophils ex vivo using conditional Hoxb8

Nat Methods. 2006 Apr;3(4):287-93. doi: 10.1038/nmeth865.


Differentiation mechanisms and inflammatory functions of neutrophils and macrophages are usually studied by genetic and biochemical approaches that require costly breeding and time-consuming purification to obtain phagocytes for functional analysis. Because Hox oncoproteins enforce self-renewal of factor-dependent myeloid progenitors, we queried whether estrogen-regulated Hoxb8 (ER-Hoxb8) could immortalize macrophage or neutrophil progenitors that would execute normal differentiation and normal innate immune function upon ER-Hoxb8 inactivation. Here we describe methods to derive unlimited quantities of mouse macrophages or neutrophils by immortalizing their respective progenitors with ER-Hoxb8 using different cytokines to target expansion of different committed progenitors. ER-Hoxb8 neutrophils and macrophages are functionally superior to those produced by many other ex vivo differentiation models, have strong inflammatory responses and can be derived easily from embryonic day 13 (e13) fetal liver of mice exhibiting embryonic-lethal phenotypes. Using knockout or small interfering RNA (siRNA) technologies, this ER-Hoxb8 phagocyte maturation system represents a rapid analytical tool for studying macrophage and neutrophil biology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biosensing Techniques
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects*
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Cell Nucleus / ultrastructure
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytokines / pharmacology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Estrogens / pharmacology*
  • Homeodomain Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • Liver / embryology
  • Liver / pathology
  • Macrophages / drug effects*
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Macrophages / ultrastructure
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Knockout / genetics
  • Myeloid Progenitor Cells / metabolism
  • Neutrophils / drug effects*
  • Neutrophils / metabolism
  • Neutrophils / ultrastructure
  • Phenotype
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics


  • Cytokines
  • Estrogens
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Hoxb8 protein, mouse
  • RNA, Small Interfering