Gerrits A, Dykstra B, Kalmykowa OJ, Klauke K, Verovskaya E, Broekhuis MJ, de Haan G, Bystrykh LV
Blood 2010 Apr;115(13):2610-8
Clonal analysis is important for many areas of hematopoietic stem cell research, including in vitro cell expansion, gene therapy, and cancer progression and treatment. A common approach to measure clonality of retrovirally transduced cells is to perform integration site analysis using Southern blotting or polymerase chain reaction-based methods. Although these methods are useful in principle, they generally provide a low-resolution, biased, and incomplete assessment of clonality. To overcome those limitations, we labeled retroviral vectors with random sequence tags or “barcodes.” On integration, each vector introduces a unique, identifiable, and heritable mark into the host cell genome, allowing the clonal progeny of each cell to be tracked over time. By coupling the barcoding method to a sequencing-based detection system, we could identify major and minor clones in 2 distinct cell culture systems in vitro and in a long-term transplantation setting. In addition, we demonstrate how clonal analysis can be complemented with transgene expression and integration site analysis. This cellular barcoding tool permits a simple, sensitive assessment of clonality and holds great promise for future gene therapy protocols in humans, and any other applications when clonal tracking is important.