BackgroundNative bone marrow (BM) mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (BM-MSCs) participate in generating and shaping the skeleton and BM throughout the lifespan. Moreover, BM-MSCs regulate hematopoiesis by contributing to the hematopoietic stem cell niche in providing critical cytokines, chemokines and extracellular matrix components. However, BM-MSCs contain a heterogeneous cell population that remains ill-defined. Although studies on the taxonomy of native BM-MSCs in mice have just started to emerge, the taxonomy of native human BM-MSCs remains unelucidated.MethodsBy using single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq), we aimed to define a proper taxonomy for native human BM non-hematopoietic subsets including endothelial cells (ECs) and mural cells (MCs) but with a focal point on MSCs. To this end, transcriptomic scRNA-seq data were generated from 5 distinct BM donors and were analyzed together with other transcriptomic data and with computational biology analyses at different levels to identify, characterize and classify distinct native cell subsets with relevant biomarkers.ResultsWe could ascribe novel specific biomarkers to ECs, MCs and MSCs. Unlike ECs and MCs, MSCs exhibited an adipogenic transcriptomic pattern while co-expressing genes related to hematopoiesis support and multilineage commitment potential. Furthermore, by a comparative analysis of scRNA-seq of BM cells from humans and mice, we identified core genes conserved in both species. Notably, we identified MARCKS, CXCL12, PDGFRA, and LEPR together with adipogenic factors as archetypal biomarkers of native MSCs within BM. In addition, our data suggest some complex gene nodes regulating critical biological functions of native BM-MSCs together with a preferential commitment toward an adipocyte lineage.ConclusionsOverall, our taxonomy for native BM non-hematopoietic compartment provides an explicit depiction of gene expression in human ECs, MCs and MSCs at single-cell resolution. This analysis helps enhance our understanding of the phenotype and the complexity of biological functions of native human BM-MSCs.

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