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Abstract

The sialomucin CD34 is expressed on human and mouse hematopoietic stem cells and is used as an important marker for isolating the hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells. The involvement of hepatic stem cells in liver regeneration under certain conditions in adult rats is now well supported. The objective of the present research was to explore the idea that CD34 might also be expressed on hepatic stem cell progeny. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based cloning of rat CD34 was partially accomplished. During the hepatic stem cell activation (2- acetylaminofluorene/partial hepatectomy [AAF/PH] model), the CD34 transcripts were increased and reached the peak level between 9 and 12 days after partial hepatectomy when the progenitor cells (e.g., oval cells, early hepatocytes in basophilic foci, and intestinal type of cells) are most abundant. Both in situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry, using anti-mouse CD34 antibody, which recognizes the cytoplasmic domain, clearly showed the expression of CD34 on oval cells as well as on endothelial cells of large hepatic vessels. In addition, bile ductular epithelial (BDE) cells both in the AAF/PH model and in normal liver expressed CD34, suggesting a close relationship between BDE cells and the hepatic stem-cell compartment. Taken together, the data indicate that CD34 would, similar to its role in the hematopoietic system, be an important probe for characterizing the cellular biology of the hepatic stem-cell compartment.