A novel prospective isolation of murine fetal liver progenitors to study in utero hematopoietic defects

PLoS Genet. 2018 Jan 4;14(1):e1007127. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1007127. eCollection 2018 Jan.


In recent years, highly detailed characterization of adult bone marrow (BM) myeloid progenitors has been achieved and, as a result, the impact of somatic defects on different hematopoietic lineage fate decisions can be precisely determined. Fetal liver (FL) hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs) are poorly characterized in comparison, potentially hindering the study of the impact of genetic alterations on midgestation hematopoiesis. Numerous disorders, for example infant acute leukemias, have in utero origins and their study would therefore benefit from the ability to isolate highly purified progenitor subsets. We previously demonstrated that a Runx1 distal promoter (P1)-GFP::proximal promoter (P2)-hCD4 dual-reporter mouse (Mus musculus) model can be used to identify adult BM progenitor subsets with distinct lineage preferences. In this study, we undertook the characterization of the expression of Runx1-P1-GFP and P2-hCD4 in FL. Expression of P2-hCD4 in the FL immunophenotypic Megakaryocyte-Erythroid Progenitor (MEP) and Common Myeloid Progenitor (CMP) compartments corresponded to increased granulocytic/monocytic/megakaryocytic and decreased erythroid specification. Moreover, Runx1-P2-hCD4 expression correlated with several endogenous cell surface markers' expression, including CD31 and CD45, providing a new strategy for prospective identification of highly purified fetal myeloid progenitors in transgenic mouse models. We utilized this methodology to compare the impact of the deletion of either total RUNX1 or RUNX1C alone and to determine the fetal HPCs lineages most substantially affected. This new prospective identification of FL progenitors therefore raises the prospect of identifying the underlying gene networks responsible with greater precision than previously possible.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Marrow / embryology
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Lineage / genetics*
  • Core Binding Factor Alpha 2 Subunit / genetics
  • Core Binding Factor Alpha 2 Subunit / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Granulocytes / cytology
  • Hematopoiesis / genetics
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Liver / cytology
  • Liver / embryology
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Megakaryocytes / cytology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Monocytes / cytology
  • Myeloid Progenitor Cells / cytology*
  • Prospective Studies


  • Core Binding Factor Alpha 2 Subunit
  • Runx1 protein, mouse

Grant support

Research in the authors’ laboratory is supported by the Medical Research Council (MR/P000673/1), the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BB/I001794/1), Bloodwise (12037), the European Union’s Horizon 2020 (GA6586250) and Cancer Research UK (C5759/A20971). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.