Combinatorial Gata2 and Sca1 expression defines hematopoietic stem cells in the bone marrow niche.
The interaction between stem cells and their supportive microenvironment is critical for their maintenance, function, and survival. Whereas hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are among the best characterized of tissue stem cells, their precise site of residence (referred to as the niche) in the adult bone marrow has not been precisely defined. In this study, we found that a Gata2 promoter directs activity in all HSCs. We show that HSCs can be isolated efficiently from bone marrow cells by following Gata2-directed GFP fluorescence, and that they can also be monitored in vivo. Each individual GFP-positive cell lay in a G0/G1 cell cycle state, in intimate contact with osteoblasts beside the endosteum, at the edge of the bone marrow. We conclude that the HSC niche is composed of solitary cells and that adult bone marrow HSC are not clustered.