Thrombopoietin promotes mixed lineage and megakaryocytic colony-forming cell growth but inhibits primitive and definitive erythropoiesis in cells isolated from early murine yolk sacs.
The role of thrombopoietin (Tpo) in promoting hematopoiesis has been extensively studied in late fetal, neonatal, and adult mice. However, the effects of Tpo on early yolk sac hematopoiesis have been largely unexplored. We examined whole embryos or the cells isolated from embryo proper and yolk sacs and identified both Tpo and c-mpl (Tpo receptor) mRNA transcripts in tissues as early as embryonic day 6.5 (E6.5). Presomite whole embryos and somite-staged yolk sac and embryo proper cells were plated in methylcellulose cultures and treated with selected hematopoietic growth factors in the presence or absence of Tpo. Tpo alone failed to promote colony-forming unit (CFU) formation. However, in the presence of other growth factors, Tpo caused a substantial dose-dependent reduction in primitive and definitive erythroid CFU growth in cultures containing E7.5 and E8.0 whole embryos and E8.25 to 9.5 yolk sac-derived cells. Meanwhile, Tpo treatment resulted in a substantial dose-dependent increase in CFU-mixed lineage (CFU-Mix) and CFU-megakaryocyte (CFU-Meg) formation in cultures containing cells from similar staged tissues. Addition of Tpo to cultures of sorted E9.5 yolk sac c-Kit(+)CD34(+) hematopoietic progenitors also inhibited erythroid CFU growth but augmented CFU-Mix and CFU-Meg activity. Effects of Tpo on CFU growth were blocked in the presence of a monoclonal antibody with Tpo-neutralizing activity but not with control antibody. Thus, under certain growth factor conditions, Tpo directly inhibits early yolk sac erythroid CFU growth but facilitates megakaryocyte and mixed lineage colony formation.