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Interleukin-3 and interleukin-7 are alternative growth factors for the same B-cell precursors in the mouse

TH Winkler, F Melchers and AG Rolink

Abstract

Clones and lines of precursor (pre) B cells can be established by limiting dilutions of unseparated cell suspensions of fetal liver or bone marrow on stromal cells in the presence of interleukin (IL)-7. When IL-3 is used instead of IL-7, cultures are regularly overgrown by different precursor cells of the myeloid lineage, as well as by adherent cells that inhibit pre-B-cell expansion. However, in the presence of either IL-7 or IL-3, clones of pre-B cells can be established on stroma cells at frequencies near one in one when the cultures are initiated with cell sorter purified CD45RO (B220)+/c-kit+ fetal liver or bone marrow derived pre-B cells. Clones grown on stromal cells in the presence of IL-7 can be regrown in IL-3, and vice versa. Pre-B cells that proliferate on stromal cells in the presence of IL-7 or IL-3 have the same phenotype, ie, are B220+ c-kit+, CD43+, and surrogate light chain+. Removal of the growth factors (IL-7, respectively IL-3) from the cultures results in differentiation to surface immunoglobulin (slg) positive, c-kit-, CD43-, surrogate light chain-B cells, a fraction of which is lipopolysaccharide (LPS) responsive as shown by IgM secretion. These results show that IL-7 and IL-3 stimulate largely overlapping populations of precursor B cells from bone marrow to proliferate for long periods of time in the presence of stromal cells. Thus, IL-7 and IL-3 are alternative growth factors for the same pre-BI cell.