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A critical regulatory role of hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) vascular niches in the bone marrow has been implicated to occur through endothelial niche cell expression of KIT ligand. However, endothelial-derived KIT ligand is expressed in both a soluble and membrane-bound form and not unique to bone marrow niches, and it is also systemically distributed through the circulatory system. Here, we confirm that upon deletion of both the soluble and membrane-bound forms of endothelial-derived KIT ligand, HSCs are reduced in mouse bone marrow. However, the deletion of endothelial-derived KIT ligand was also accompanied by reduced soluble KIT ligand levels in the blood, precluding any conclusion as to whether the reduction in HSC numbers reflects reduced endothelial expression of KIT ligand within HSC niches, elsewhere in the bone marrow, and/or systemic soluble KIT ligand produced by endothelial cells outside of the bone marrow. Notably, endothelial deletion, specifically of the membrane-bound form of KIT ligand, also reduced systemic levels of soluble KIT ligand, although with no effect on stem cell numbers, implicating an HSC regulatory role primarily of soluble rather than membrane KIT ligand expression in endothelial cells. In support of a role of systemic rather than local niche expression of soluble KIT ligand, HSCs were unaffected in KIT ligand deleted bones implanted into mice with normal systemic levels of soluble KIT ligand. Our findings highlight the need for more specific tools to unravel niche-specific roles of regulatory cues expressed in hematopoietic niche cells in the bone marrow.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





1622 - 1632


Mice, Animals, Stem Cell Factor, Endothelial Cells, Hematopoietic Stem Cells, Bone Marrow, Bone and Bones, Stem Cell Niche, Bone Marrow Cells