The formation of mature haemopoietic cells is controlled by hormones that specifically stimulate the progenitor cells of the granulocyte/macrophage, eosinophil, megakaryocyte and erythroid pathways. PWMSC medium (pokeweed-mitogen-stimulated spleen-cell-conditioned medium) is known to contain the biological activities that control the clonal proliferation of these four progenitor cells in vitro in semi-solid agar cultures. In this study the molecular properties of these biological activities were characterized, and all four colony-stimulating factors appear to be associated with glycoproteins. These factors were precipitated between 50 and 80%-satd. (NH4)2SO4 and could be concentrated by ultrafiltration over a 10000-mol.wt.-cut-off hollow-fibre membrane. Megakaryocyte- and erythroid-colony-stimulating factors were lost when the conditioned medium was dialysed at low ionic strength (<0.03m). Neither asialo- nor sialo-erythropoietin was detectable in concentrated PWMSC medium or in the fractions purified from it by gel filtration on Sephadex G-150. The factors bound to concanavalin A–Sepharose were eluted with α-methyl-d-glucopyranoside (0.10m). Analysis by gel filtration on Sephadex G-150 indicated that the apparent molecular-weight distributions of all colony-stimulating factors were identical (37000). Treatment with neuraminidase did not alter the biological activities of any of these factors, but when the molecular weights were analysed, after neuraminidase treatment, on Sepharose CL-6B in the presence of guanidine hydrochloride (6m) all were eluted with a mol.wt. of 24000. Although the apparent molecular weights of the different factors were identical, charge differences were detectable by isoelectric focusing on thin-layer granulated gels. There appeared to be considerable charge heterogeneity associated with each factor, as all were focused over 2–4 pH units. The maximum activity of the granulocyte/macrophage-colony-stimulating factor on isoelectric focusing was at pH4.8, whereas the maximum activity for the eosinophil-colony-stimulating factor was at pH5.8. The erythroid- and megakaryocyte-colony-stimulating activities were detected in the pH ranges 4.8–5.8 and 4.6–7.1 respectively. Chromatographic differences between the granulocyte/macrophage- and eosinophil-colony-stimulating factors were also detected by hydrophobic chromatography at low ionic strength (0.15m-NaCl) on Cibacron Blue–Sepharose and at high ionic strength [2m-(NH4)2SO4] on phenyl-Sepharose. Eosinophil-colony-stimulating factor bound more strongly than the other factors to both matrices. The megakaryocyte- and erythroid-colony-stimulating activities were always associated with those for granulocytes/macrophages and eosinophils. Preparations highly enriched for eosinophil-colony-stimulating factor were also obtained by DEAE-cellulose chromatography. An overall purification of 100-fold for all of the factors was achieved with the present techniques, and, although differences were observed, only granulocyte/macrophage-stimulating factors and a small proportion of the eosinophil-stimulating factors could be completely separated from the others. Our results are consistent with the existence of separable factors for granulocyte/macrophage and eosinophil stimulation, but the megakaryocyte- and erythroid-stimulating activities were always associated with the granulocyte/macrophage- and eosinophil-stimulating activities. Thus there may be one molecule that is able to stimulate all four colony types or four very similar molecules that are difficult to separate.

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