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Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is characterized by developmental arrest, which is thought to arise from transcriptional dysregulation of myeloid development programs. Hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) isolated from human blood are frequently used as a normal comparator in AML studies. Previous studies have reported changes in the transcriptional program of genes involved in proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis, and homing when HSPCs were expanded ex vivo. The intrinsic functional differences between quiescent and dividing CD34+ HSPCs prompted us to determine whether fresh or cytokine-induced cord blood-derived CD34+ HSPCs are a more appropriate normal control compared to AML blasts. Based on principal component analysis and gene expression profiling we demonstrate that CD34+ HSPCs that do not undergo ex vivo expansion are transcriptionally similar to minimally differentiated AML blasts. This was confirmed by comparing the cell cycle status of the AML blasts and the HSPCs. We suggest that freshly isolated CD34+ HSPCs that do not undergo ex vivo expansion would serve as a better control to identify novel transcriptional targets in the AML blast population.

Original publication




Journal article


Gene Expr

Publication Date





169 - 175


Antigens, CD34, Cytokines, Fetal Blood, Hematopoietic Stem Cells, Humans, Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute, Transcription, Genetic