The mechanisms regulating key fate decisions such as self-renewal and differentiation in hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPC) remain poorly understood. We report here a screening strategy developed to assess modulators of human hematopoiesis using a lentiviral short hairpin RNA (shRNA) library transduced into cord blood-derived stem/progenitor cells. To screen for modifiers of self-renewal/differentiation, we used the limited persistence of HSPCs under ex vivo culture conditions as a baseline for functional selection of shRNAs conferring enhanced maintenance or expansion of the stem/progenitor potential. This approach enables complex, pooled screens in large numbers of cells. Functional selection identified novel specific gene targets (exostoses 1) or shRNA constructs capable of altering human hematopoietic progenitor differentiation or stem cell expansion, respectively, thereby demonstrating the potential of this forward screening approach in primary human stem cell populations.

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David Scadden’s laboratory is dedicated to discovering the principles governing blood cell production, with the ultimate goal of guiding the development of therapies for blood disorders and cancer.

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