Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) sustain long-term reconstitution of hematopoiesis in transplantation recipients, yet their role in the endogenous steady-state hematopoiesis remains unclear. In particular, recent studies suggested that HSCs provide a relatively minor contribution to immune cell development in adults. We directed transgene expression in a fraction of HSCs that maintained reconstituting activity during serial transplantations. Inducible genetic labeling showed that transgene-expressing HSCs gave rise to other phenotypic HSCs, confirming their top position in the differentiation hierarchy. The labeled HSCs rapidly contributed to committed progenitors of all lineages and to mature myeloid cells and lymphocytes, but not to B-1a cells or tissue macrophages. Importantly, labeled HSCs gave rise to more than two-thirds of all myeloid cells and platelets in adult mice, and this contribution could be accelerated by an induced interferon response. Thus, classically defined HSCs maintain immune cell development in the steady state and during systemic cytokine responses.
The role of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) in steady-state hematopoiesis remains controversial. Here, Sawai et al. use lineage tracing to reveal a major contribution of HSCs to all blood cell lineages, including myeloid cells and lymphocytes, throughout adult life.