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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

The molecular signature of therapeutic mesenchymal stem cells exposes the architecture of the hematopoietic stem cell niche synapse

Enrico Pedemonte12, Federica Benvenuto23, Simona Casazza2, Gianluigi Mancardi23, Jorge R Oksenberg1, Antonio Uccelli23 and Sergio E Baranzini1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Neurology, School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA

2 Neuroimmunology Unit, Department of Neurosciences, Ophthalmology and Genetics, University of Genoa, Italy

3 Centre of Excellence for Biomedical Research, University of Genoa, Italy

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BMC Genomics 2007, 8:65  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-8-65

Published: 6 March 2007

Abstract

Background

The hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) niche of the bone marrow is comprised of HSCs, osteoblasts, endothelial cells and a stromal component of non-hematopoietic multipotent cells of mesenchymal origin named "mesenchymal stem cells" (MSCs).

Results

Here we studied the global transcriptional profile of murine MSCs with immuno-therapeutic potential and compared it with that of 486 publicly available microarray datasets from 12 other mouse tissues or cell types. Principal component analysis and hierarchical clustering identified a unique pattern of gene expression capable of distinctively classifying MSCs from other tissues and cells. We then performed an analysis aimed to identify absolute and relative abundance of transcripts in all cell types. We found that the set of transcripts uniquely expressed by MSCs is enriched in transcription factors and components of the Wnt signaling pathway. The analysis of differentially expressed genes also identified a set of genes specifically involved in the HSC niche and is complemented by functional studies that confirm the findings. Interestingly, some of these genes play a role in the maintenance of HSCs in a quiescent state supporting their survival and preventing them from proliferating and differentiating. We also show that MSCs modulate T cell functions in vitro and, upon in vivo administration, ameliorate experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE).

Conclusion

Altogether, these findings provide novel and important insights on the mechanisms of T cell function regulation by MSCs and help to cement the rationale for their application in the treatment of autoimmune diseases.