Mouse neutrophilic granulocytes express mRNA encoding the macrophage colony-stimulating factor receptor (CSF-1R) as well as many other macrophage-specific transcripts and can transdifferentiate into macrophages in vitro in response to CSF-1

J Leukoc Biol. 2007 Jul;82(1):111-23. doi: 10.1189/jlb.1206713. Epub 2007 Apr 16.


The differentiation of macrophages from their progenitors is controlled by macrophage colony-stimulating factor (CSF-1), which binds to a receptor (CSF-1R) encoded by the c-fms proto-oncogene. We have previously used the promoter region of the CSF-1R gene to direct expression of an enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) reporter gene to resident macrophage populations in transgenic mice. In this paper, we show that the EGFP reporter is also expressed in all granulocytes detected with the Gr-1 antibody, which binds to Ly-6C and Ly-6G or with a Ly-6G-specific antibody. Transgene expression reflects the presence of CSF-1R mRNA but not CSF-1R protein. The same pattern is observed with the macrophage-specific F4/80 marker. Based on these findings, we performed a comparative array profiling of highly purified granulocytes and macrophages. The patterns of mRNA expression differed predominantly through granulocyte-specific expression of a small subset of transcription factors (Egr1, HoxB7, STAT3), known abundant granulocyte proteins (e.g., S100A8, S100A9, neutrophil elastase), and specific receptors (fMLP, G-CSF). These findings suggested that appropriate stimuli might mediate rapid interconversion of the major myeloid cell types, for example, in inflammation. In keeping with this hypothesis, we showed that purified Ly-6G-positive granulocytes express CSF-1R after overnight culture and can subsequently differentiate to form F4/80-positive macrophages in response to CSF-1.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Granulocytes / cytology*
  • Granulocytes / metabolism*
  • Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor / pharmacology*
  • Macrophages / cytology*
  • Mice
  • Neutrophils / cytology
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • Receptor, Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor / genetics*


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor
  • Receptor, Macrophage Colony-Stimulating Factor