Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Microbiology and Immunology (Medicine)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Becky Adkins

Second Committee Member

Robert B. Levy

Third Committee Member

Richard Riley

Fourth Committee Member

Pantelis Tsoulfas

Fifth Committee Member

Roland Jurecic

Sixth Committee Member

James Palis


Evolutionarily conserved Pumilio (Pum) RNA-binding proteins act as translational repressors during embryo development and cell fate specification. Previous work in the lab has shown that over-expression of Pum2 (Pum2-EML) supports maintenance and suppresses mutilineage differentiation of murine multipotent HSC/MPP-like cell line EML. The subsequent analysis of HSC markers and functional analysis has revealed that wt EML cells share the LKS CD34 positive phenotype, whereas the majority Pum2-EML cells are similar to LKS CD34 negative. The CD34 positive wt EML cells can be divided into CD34low, CD34med and CD34high subpopulations, whereas Pum2-EML CD34 positive cells correspond to CD34low subpopulation. Colony forming assays have revealed that the overall multilineage differentiation of wt EML and Pum2-EML cells strongly correlates with the CD34 expression levels. Multiple experiments have revealed that purified CD34 negative and CD34 positive wt EML cells can generate each other and among CD34 positive wt EML cells the CD34low cells have the highest capacity to give rise to CD34 negative EML cells. We have proposed a model in which CD34 negative EML cells are more primitive cells in an "inactive" (differentiation inhibited) state, that give rise to CD3low "active" (differentiation ready) EML cells. The CD34low EML cells can revert back to the CD34 negative state or give rise to CD34med/high cells that can readily differentiate into multiple lineages. Based on that model, the over-expression of Pum2 leads to increased maintenance of cells in inactive CD34 negative state, and blocks development of CD34 positive cells past the CD34low stage. Cumulatively, these results support the notions that Pum2 could be involved in maintaining the balance between inactive and active state of multipotent hematopoietic cells. The c-kit receptor plays a vital role in self-renewal and differentiation of hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) and multipotent progenitors (MPPs). We have discovered that besides c-kit, the murine multipotent HSC/MPP-like cell line EML expresses the transcript and protein for a truncated form of c-kit, called tr-kit. Notably, the tr-kit transcript and protein levels were down-regulated during cytokine induced differentiation of HSC/MPP-like cell line EML into myelo-erythroid lineages. RT-PCR results show tr-kit is transcribed solely in cell populations enriched for LTR-HSC, STR-HSC and MPPs. The observation that tr-kit is co-expressed with c-kit only in more primitive, HSC and MPP-enriched cell populations raises an exciting possibility that tr-kit functions either as a new component of SCF/c-kit pathway, or is involved in a novel signaling pathway, present exclusively in HSC and MPPs. These findings necessitate functional characterization of tr-kit, and analysis of its potential role in the self-renewal, proliferation and/or differentiation of HSC and multipotent progenitors.


Truncated C-kit; EML; RNA Binding Proteins