Year of Publication


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First Advisor

Gary Van Zant

Second Advisor

Lu-Yuan Lee


Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) transplantations are widely used for the treatment of hematological and non-hematological disorders in clinic. Successful transplantation requires sufficient number and efficient homing of HSCs. Many studies have focused on developing an effective strategy to expand functional HSC population. Some regulatory molecules have been recently shown great promise for controlling the amplification of HSCs. In these dissertation studies, I first aim to identify gene(s) and their allelic variants contributing to strain-specific difference in HSC numbers between C57BL/6 (B6, low) and DBA/2 (D2, high) mice by using a classic forward genetic approach. Firstly, 3 quantitative trait loci (QTL) on chromosome (Chr) 3,5 and 18 were mapped by linkage analyses and confirmed in congenic mice. Secondly, Chr.3 QTL affected several HSC number-related biological processes. The D2 allele increased cycling and self-renewal whereas it decreased apoptotic rates of HSCs. Both actions conspired to increase HSC population size. Lastly, a small number of differentially-expressed genes was identified in Chr.3 congenic HSCs by a microarray-based candidate gene method, and the differential expression of one candidate, latexin, was found to relate to HSC number variations. Our studies report the strong evidence for the potential functions of latexin in HSC number regulation, and they are important for understanding molecular mechanisms of stem cell regulation and developing effective stem cell expansion strategies for clinical applications. In the second part of my studies, I studied homing and engraftment capabilities of HSCs. By using functional assays for progenitor and stem cells, I first reported the absolute homing efficiencies of murine young or old donor cells into young or old recipient mice. The results indicated that homing of primitive hematopoietic cells was not efficient and significantly decreased by aging of donors and recipients. The proliferation and differentiation states of HSCs were also impaired by homing itself, as well as by donors' and recipients age. Moreover, the hematopoietic reconstitution dynamics following transplantation were also affected by aging. Together, these findings will provide useful information for clinical applications especially when older individuals increasing serve as stem cell donors for elderly patients.