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Research article2020Peer reviewedOpen access

How Relevant Are Bone Marrow-Derived Mast Cells (BMMCs) as Models for Tissue Mast Cells? A Comparative Transcriptome Analysis of BMMCs and Peritoneal Mast Cells

Akula, Srinivas; Paivandy, Aida; Fu, Zhirong; Thorpe, Michael; Pejler, Gunnar; Hellman, Lars


Bone marrow-derived mast cells (BMMCs) are often used as a model system for studies of the role of MCs in health and disease. These cells are relatively easy to obtain from total bone marrow cells by culturing under the influence of IL-3 or stem cell factor (SCF). After 3 to 4 weeks in culture, a nearly homogenous cell population of toluidine blue-positive cells are often obtained. However, the question is how relevant equivalents these cells are to normal tissue MCs. By comparing the total transcriptome of purified peritoneal MCs with BMMCs, here we obtained a comparative view of these cells. We found several important transcripts that were expressed at very high levels in peritoneal MCs, but were almost totally absent from the BMMCs, including the major chymotryptic granule protease Mcpt4, the neurotrophin receptor Gfra2, the substance P receptor Mrgprb2, the metalloprotease Adamts9 and the complement factor 2 (C2). In addition, there were a number of other molecules that were expressed at much higher levels in peritoneal MCs than in BMMCs, including the transcription factors Myb and Meis2, the MilR1 (Allergin), Hdc (Histidine decarboxylase), Tarm1 and the IL-3 receptor alpha chain. We also found many transcripts that were highly expressed in BMMCs but were absent or expressed at low levels in the peritoneal MCs. However, there were also numerous MC-related transcripts that were expressed at similar levels in the two populations of cells, but almost absent in peritoneal macrophages and B cells. These results reveal that the transcriptome of BMMCs shows many similarities, but also many differences to that of tissue MCs. BMMCs can thereby serve as suitable models in many settings concerning the biology of MCs, but our findings also emphasize that great care should be taken when extrapolating findings from BMMCs to the in vivo function of tissue-resident MCs.


in vitro model; transcriptome; mRNA; mast cell; tryptase; chymase; serine protease; Fc epsilon RI; heparin; histamine

Published in

2020, Volume: 9, number: 9, article number: 2118
Publisher: MDPI

      UKÄ Subject classification

      Cell Biology

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