Cell fusion plays a well-recognized, physiological role during development. Bone-marrow-derived hematopoietic cells have been shown to fuse with non-hematopoietic cells in a wide variety of tissues. Some organs appear to resolve the changes in ploidy status, generating functional and mitotically-competent events. However, cell fusion exclusively involving hematopoietic cells has not been reported. Indeed, genomic copy number variation in highly replicative hematopoietic cells is widely considered a hallmark of malignant transformation. Here we show that cell fusion occurs between cells of the hematopoietic system under injury as well as non-injury conditions. Experiments reveal the acquisition of genetic markers in fusion products, their tractable maintenance during hematopoietic differentiation and long-term persistence after serial transplantation. Fusion events were identified in clonogenic progenitors as well as differentiated myeloid and lymphoid cells. These observations provide a new experimental model for the study of non-pathogenic somatic diversity in the hematopoietic system.
- Copy number variation
- Intra-hematopoietic cell fusion
- Somatic diversity
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology