Purification of rare hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) to homogeneity is required to study their self-renewal, differentiation, phenotype, and homing. Long-term repopulation (LTR) of irradiated hosts and serial transplantation to secondary hosts represent the gold standard for demonstrating self-renewal and differentiation, the defining properties of HSC. We show that rare cells that home to bone marrow can LTR primary and secondary recipients. During the homing, CD34 and SCA-1 expression increases uniquely on cells that home to marrow. These adult bone marrow cells have tremendous differentiative capacity as they can also differentiate into epithelial cells of the liver, lung, GI tract, and skin. This finding may contribute to clinical treatment of genetic disease or tissue repair.
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