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K562 erythroleukemia line as a possible reticulocyte source to culture Plasmodium vivax and its surrogates

  • Kronstein-Wiedemann, Romy1
  • Klop, Onny2
  • Thiel, Jessica1
  • Milanov, Peter1
  • Ruhland, Claudia1
  • Vermaat, Lars2
  • Kocken, Clemens H.M.2
  • Tonn, Torsten1, 3
  • Pasini, Erica M.2
  • 1 Department of Experimental Transfusion Medicine, Medical Faculty Carl Gustav Carus, Technische, Universität Dresden, Dresden, Germany
  • 2 Biomedical Primate Research Centre, Rijswijk, The Netherlands
  • 3 Institute for Transfusion Medicine Dresden, German Red Cross Blood Donation Service North East, Dresden, Germany
Published Article
Experimental Hematology
Elsevier Science Inc
Publication Date
Feb 01, 2020
DOI: 10.1016/j.exphem.2020.01.012
PMID: 32007479
PMCID: PMC7097847
PubMed Central


Establishing an in vitro “red blood cell matrix” that would allow uninterrupted access to a stable, homogeneous reticulocyte population would facilitate the establishment of continuous, long-term in vitro Plasmodium vivax blood stage cultures. In this study, we have explored the suitability of the erythroleukemia K562 cell line as a continuous source of such reticulocytes and have investigated regulatory factors behind the terminal differentiation (and enucleation, in particular) of this cell line that can be used to drive the reticulocyte production process. The Duffy blood group antigen receptor (Fy), essential for P. vivax invasion, was stably introduced into K562 cells by lentiviral gene transfer. miRNA-26a-5p and miRNA-30a-5p were downregulated to promote erythroid differentiation and enucleation, resulting in a tenfold increase in the production of reticulocytes after stimulation with an induction cocktail compared with controls. Our results suggest an interplay in the mechanisms of action of miRNA-26a-5p and miRNA-30a-5p, which makes it necessary to downregulate both miRNAs to achieve a stable enucleation rate and Fy receptor expression. In the context of establishing P. vivax -permissive, stable, and reproducible reticulocytes, a higher enucleation rate may be desirable, which may be achieved by the targeting of further regulatory mechanisms in Fy-K562 cells; promoting the shift in hemoglobin production from fetal to adult may also be necessary. Despite the fact that K562 erythroleukemia cell lines are of neoplastic origin, this cell line offers a versatile model system to research the regulatory mechanisms underlying erythropoiesis.

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