Asymmetry in skeletal distribution of mouse hematopoietic stem cell clones and their equilibration by mobilizing cytokines

J Exp Med. 2014 Mar 10;211(3):487-97. doi: 10.1084/jem.20131804. Epub 2014 Feb 24.


Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are able to migrate through the blood stream and engraft bone marrow (BM) niches. These features are key factors for successful stem cell transplantations that are used in cancer patients and in gene therapy protocols. It is unknown to what extent transplanted HSCs distribute throughout different anatomical niches in the BM and whether this changes with age. Here we determine the degree of hematopoietic migration at a clonal level by transplanting individual young and aged mouse HSCs labeled with barcoded viral vector, followed by assessing the skeletal distribution of hundreds of HSC clones. We detected highly skewed representation of individual clones in different bones at least 11 mo after transplantation. Importantly, a single challenge with the clinically relevant mobilizing agent granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) caused rapid redistribution of HSCs across the skeletal compartments. Old and young HSC clones showed a similar level of migratory behavior. Clonal make-up of blood of secondary recipients recapitulates the barcode composition of HSCs in the bone of origin. These data demonstrate a previously unanticipated high skeletal disequilibrium of the clonal composition of HSC pool long-term after transplantation. Our findings have important implications for experimental and clinical and stem cell transplantation protocols.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Marrow / metabolism*
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Cell Movement / physiology*
  • Colony-Forming Units Assay
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • DNA Barcoding, Taxonomic
  • Genetic Vectors
  • Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor / pharmacology
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / physiology
  • Linear Models
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Statistics, Nonparametric


  • Cytokines
  • Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor