The fms-like tyrosine kinase 3 (Flt3) is a cell surface receptor that is expressed by various hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPC) and Flt3-activating mutations are commonly present in acute myeloid and lymphoid leukemias. These findings underscore the importance of Flt3 to steady-state and malignant hematopoiesis. In this study, the expression of Flt3 protein and Flt3 mRNA by single cells within the hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) and HPC bone marrow compartments of C57/BL6 mice was investigated using flow cytometry and the quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction. Flt3 was heterogeneously expressed by almost all of the populations studied, including long-term reconstituting HSC and short-term reconstituting HSC. The erythropoietin receptor (EpoR) and macrophage colony-stimulating factor receptor (M-CSFR) were also found to be heterogeneously expressed within the multipotent cell compartments. Co-expression of the mRNAs encoding Flt3 and EpoR rarely occurred within these compartments. Expression of both Flt3 and M-CSFR protein at the surface of single cells was more commonly observed. These results emphasize the heterogeneous nature of HSC and HPC and the new sub-populations identified are important to understanding the origin and heterogeneity of the acute myeloid leukemias.
Keywords: Flt3; HSC; cytokines; growth factor receptors; hematopoiesis; leukemia.