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Keywords:

  • Hematopoietic stem cells;
  • In vivo inducible genetic manipulation;
  • Doxycycline;
  • tTR-KRAB;
  • Hematopoiesis;
  • Lentiviral vectors

Abstract

Hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) are probably the best understood somatic stem cells and often serve as a paradigm for other stem cells. Nevertheless, most current techniques to genetically manipulate them in vivo are either constitutive and/or induced in settings of hematopoietic stress such as after irradiation. Here, we present a conditional expression system that allows for externally controllable transgenesis and knockdown in resident HSCs, based on a lentiviral vector containing a tet-O sequence and a transgenic mouse line expressing a doxycyclin-regulated tTR-KRAB repressor protein. HSCs harvested from tTR-KRAB mice are transduced with the lentiviral vector containing a cDNA (i.e., Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP)) and/or shRNA (i.e., p53) of interest and then transplanted into lethally irradiated recipients. While the vector is effectively repressed by tTR-KRAB during homing and engraftment, robust GFP/shp53 expression is induced on doxycyclin treatment in HSCs and their progeny. Doxycylin-controllable transcription is maintained on serial transplantation, indicating that repopulating HSCs are stably modified by this approach. In summary, this easy to implement conditional system provides inducible and reversible overexpression or knock down of genes in resident HSCs in vivo using a drug devoid of toxic or activating effects. STEM CELLS 2010;28:1390–1398