Prion protein is expressed on long-term repopulating hematopoietic stem cells and its important for their self-renewal

Chengcheng Zhang, Andrew D. Steele, Susan Lindquist, Harvey F. Lodish

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

170 Scopus citations


Although the wild-type prion protein (PrP) is abundant and widely expressed in various types of tissues and cells, its physiological function(s) remain unknown, and PrP knockout mice do not exhibit overt and undisputed phenotypes. Here we showed that PrP is expressed on the surface of several bone marrow cell populations successively enriched in long-term (LT) hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) using flow cytometry analysis. Affinity purification of the PrP-positive and -negative fractions from these populations, followed by competitive bone marrow reconstitution assays, shows that all LT HSCs express PrP. HSCs from PrP-null bone marrow exhibited impaired self-renewal in serial transplantation of lethally irradiated mouse recipients both in the presence and absence of competitors. When treated with a cell cycle-specific myelotoxic agent, the animals reconstituted with PrP-null HSCs exhibit increased sensitivity to hematopoietic cell depletion. Ectopic expression of PrP in PrP-null bone marrow cells by retroviral infection rescued the defective hematopoietic engraftment during serial transplantation. Therefore, PrP is a marker for HSCs and supports their self-renewal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2184-2189
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number7
StatePublished - Feb 14 2006



  • Bone marrow
  • Hematopoiesis
  • Reconstitution
  • Serial transplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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