FGF1 and FGF2 support hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) under stress conditions. In this study, we show that fibroblast growth factor (FGF7) may be a novel niche factor for HSPC support and leukemic growth. FGF7 expression was attenuated in mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) deficient for the MED1 subunit of the Mediator transcriptional coregulator complex. When normal mouse bone marrow (BM) cells were cocultured with Med1 +/+ MEFs or BM stromal cells in the presence of anti-FGF7 antibody, the growth of BM cells and the number of long-time culture-initiating cells (LTC-ICs) decreased significantly. Anti-FGF7 antibody also attenuated the proliferation and cobblestone formation of MB1 stromal cell-dependent myeloblastoma cells. The addition of recombinant FGF7 to the coculture of BM cells and Med1 −/− MEFs increased BM cells and LTC-ICs. FGF7 and its cognate receptor, FGFR2IIIb, were undetectable in BM cells, but MEFs and BM stromal cells expressed both. FGF7 activated downstream targets of FGFR2IIIb in Med1 +/+ and Med1 −/− MEFs and BM stromal cells. Taken together, we propose that FGF7 supports HSPCs and leukemia-initiating cells indirectly via FGFR2IIIb expressed on stromal cells.
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