ER-MP12 antigen, a new cell surface marker on mouse bone marrow cells with thymus-repopulating ability: I. Intrathymic repopulating ability of ER-MP12-positive bone marrow cells.
Slieker WA., de Rijk-de Bruijn MF., Leenen PJ., van Ewijk W.
We searched for new cell surface markers that allow a positive identification of thymus-repopulating cells in the bone marrow (BM) of the mouse. Recently we raised two rat monoclonal antibodies (ER-MP12 and ER-MP20) that recognize cell surface antigens expressed by mouse haematopoietic progenitor cells, among which are progenitor cells of the macrophage lineage. Here we show that the ER-MP12 antigen, but not the ER-MP20 antigen, is also expressed by BM cells with thymus-repopulating ability. Using ER-MP12 and ER-MP20 in two-colour immunofluorescence analysis six subpopulations of BM cells can be identified. The thymus-repopulating ability of each BM subpopulation was assessed after fluorescence-activated cell sorting and subsequent intrathymic injection into sublethally irradiated Thy-1 congenic recipient mice. Thymus-repopulating activity appeared to be exclusively confined to two subsets of BM cells expressing either high or intermediate levels of the ER-MP12 antigen, but lacking ER-MP20 antigen expression. These BM subsets comprised 1-2% and 30% of total nucleated BM cells respectively. The frequency of thymus-repopulating cells was maximal in the minor BM subpopulation with the highest level of ER-MP12 antigen expression. We conclude that ER-MP12 detects a hitherto unknown cell surface marker expressed by BM cells with thymus-repopulating ability.