It is reasonable to propose that gene expression profiles of purified stem cells could give clues for the molecular mechanisms of stem cell behavior. We took advantage of cDNA subtraction to identify a set of genes selectively expressed in mouse adult hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) as opposed to bone marrow (BM). Analysis of HSC-enriched genes revealed several key regulatory gene candidates, including two novel seven transmembrane (7TM) receptors. Furthermore, by using cDNA microarray techniques we found a large set of HSC-enriched genes that are expressed in mouse neurospheres (a population greatly enriched for neural progenitor cells), but not present in terminally differentiated neural cells. In situ hybridization demonstrated that many of them, including one HSC-enriched 7TM receptor, were selectively expressed in the germinal zones of fetal and adult brain, the regions harboring mouse neural stem cells. We propose that at least some of the transcripts that are selectively and commonly expressed in two or more types of stem cells define a functionally conserved group of genes evolved to participate in basic stem cell functions, including stem cell self-renewal.
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