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Originally cloned from hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) populations and its ligand being extensively used to promote ex vivo HSC expansion, the FMS-like tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3; also called FLK2) receptor and its ligand (FL) were expected to emerge as an important physiologic regulator of HSC maintenance and expansion. However, the role of FLT3 receptor and ligand in HSC regulation remains unclear and disputed. Herein, using Fl-deficient mice, we establish for the first time that HSC expansion in fetal liver and after transplantation is FL independent. Because previous findings in Flk2(-/-) mice were compatible with an important role of FLT3 receptor in HSC regulation and because alternative ligands might potentially interact directly or indirectly with FLT3 receptor, we here also characterized HSCs in Flk2(-/-) mice. Advanced phenotypic as well as functional evaluation of Flk2(-/-) HSCs showed that the FLT3 receptor is dispensable for HSC steady-state maintenance and expansion after transplantation. Taken together, these studies show that the FLT3 receptor and ligand are not critical regulators of mouse HSCs, neither in steady state nor during fetal or posttransplantation expansion.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





3453 - 3460


Animals, Cell Division, Flow Cytometry, Graft Survival, Hematopoiesis, Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation, Hematopoietic Stem Cells, Membrane Proteins, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Mice, Mutant Strains, Phenotype, fms-Like Tyrosine Kinase 3