During postnatal life, the bone marrow (BM) supports both self-renewal and differentiation of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) in specialized microenvironments termed stem cell niches. Cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix interactions between HSCs and their niches are critical for the maintenance of HSC properties. Here, we analyzed the function of Ncadherin in the regulation of the proliferation and long-term repopulation activity of hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells (HSPCs) by the transduction of N-cadherin shRNA. Inhibition of N-cadherin expression accelerated cell division in vitro and reduced the lodgment of donor HSPCs to the endosteal surface, resulting in a significant reduction in long-term engraftment. Cotransduction of N-cadherin shRNA and a mutant N-cadherin that introduced the silent mutations to shRNA target sequences rescued the accelerated cell division and reconstitution phenotypes. In addition, the requirement of N-cadherin for HSPC engraftment appears to be niche specific, as shN-cad-transduced lineage-Sca- 1+c-Kit+ cells successfully engrafted in spleen, which lacks an osteoblastic niche. These findings suggest that N-cad-mediated cell adhesion is functionally required for the establishment of hematopoiesis in the BM niche after BM transplantation.
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