To understand physiological roles of tissue mast cells, we established a culture system where bone marrow-derived immature mast cells differentiate into the connective tissue-type mast cell (CTMC)-like cells through modifying the previous co-culture system with Swiss 3T3 fibroblasts. Our system was found to reproducibly mimic the differentiation of CTMCs on the basis of several criteria, such as granule maturation and sensitivity to cationic secretagogues. The gene expression profile obtained by the microarray analyses was found to reflect many aspects of the differentiation. Our system is thus helpful to gain deeper insights into terminal differentiation of CTMCs.
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