by Chiyo Mizuochi, Stuart T. Fraser, Katia Biasch, Yuka Horio, Yoshikane Kikushige, Kenzaburo Tani, Koichi Akashi, Manuela Tavian, Daisuke Sugiyama
Intra-aortic clusters (IACs) attach to floor of large arteries and are considered to have recently acquired hematopoietic stem cell (HSC)-potential in vertebrate early mid-gestation embryos. The formation and function of IACs is poorly understood. To address this issue, IACs were characterized by immunohistochemistry and flow cytometry in mouse embryos. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed that IACs simultaneously express the surface antigens CD31, CD34 and c-Kit. As embryos developed from 9.5 to 10.5 dpc, IACs up-regulate the hematopoietic markers CD41 and CD45 while down-regulating the endothelial surface antigen VE-cadherin/CD144, suggesting that IACs lose endothelial phenotype after 9.5 dpc. Analysis of the hematopoietic potential of IACs revealed a significant change in macrophage CFC activity from 9.5 to 10.5 dpc. To further characterize IACs, we isolated IACs based on CD45 expression. Correspondingly, the expression of hematopoietic transcription factors in the CD45(neg) fraction of IACs was significantly up-regulated. These results suggest that the transition from endothelial to hematopoietic phenotype of IACs occurs after 9.5 dpc.