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Flow cytometric protocols are employed to identify and characterize hemopoietic stem/progenitor populations before transplantation. Cell surface antigens, including CD34, are employed in this process and widely used in harvest protocols, which largely ignores the potential functional role of such antigens. Transmembrane glycoprotein sialomucins, including CD34 and CD164, have been implicated in cell-to-cell interactions and activation. CD164, also expressed on early hemopoietic populations, was reported to have a possible function facilitating CD34(+) cells to adhere to bone marrow stroma. In this study, we employed high-definition laser-scanning confocal microscopy to investigate CD34 and CD164 surface co-localization patterns on bone marrow and cord blood cells and to compare the expression patterns using a three-dimensional computer-generated method developed in house. Differential interference microscopy analysis revealed bone marrow membrane activity was higher than the corresponding cord blood counterpart, perhaps indicating the marrow microenvironmental nature. Fluorescence analysis of CD34 and CD164 antigens showed both were expressed first in a halo-like pattern and second in antigen-dense pockets. Three-dimensional computer analyses further revealed that this pocketing corresponded to dense crest-like surface structures appearing to rise from the point of adherence on the slide. Further, it was found that CD34 and CD164 display strong colocalization patterns on cells expressing both antigens. The dual nature of the CD34 and CD164 antigens discovered here lends further evidence to the previous literature implicating a strong functional link between these two sialomucins, which should be considered in the transplantation arena and in the function of such sialomucins as negative regulators of cell proliferation.

Original publication




Journal article


Stem Cells

Publication Date





162 - 170


Antigens, CD34, Cell Adhesion, Cell Membrane, Fetal Blood, Flow Cytometry, Hematopoietic Stem Cells, Humans, Membrane Proteins, Microscopy, Confocal, Microscopy, Interference, Mucins, Sialomucins