Regulation of Hematopoietic Stem Cell Behavior by the Nanostructured Presentation of Extracellular Matrix Components

>Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are maintained in stem cell niches, which regulate stem cell fate. Extracellular matrix (ECM) molecules, which are an essential part of these niches, can actively modulate cell functions. However, only little is known on the impact of ECM ligands on HSCs in a biomimetic environment defined on the nanometer-scale level. Here, we show that human hematopoietic stem and progenitor cell (HSPC) adhesion depends on the type of ligand, i.e., the type of ECM molecule, and the lateral, nanometer-scaled distance between the ligands (while the ligand type influenced the dependency on the latter). For small fibronectin (FN)–derived peptide ligands such as RGD and LDV the critical adhesive interligand distance for HSPCs was below 45 nm. FN-derived (FN type III 7–10) and osteopontin-derived protein domains also supported cell adhesion at greater distances. We found that the expression of the ECM protein thrombospondin-2 (THBS2) in HSPCs depends on the presence of the ligand type and its nanostructured presentation. Functionally, THBS2 proved to mediate adhesion of HSPCs. In conclusion, the present study shows that HSPCs are sensitive to the nanostructure of their microenvironment and that they are able to actively modulate their environment by secreting ECM factors.

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