Hematopoietic stem cell emergence in the conceptus and the role of Runx1.
ABSTRACT: Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are functionally defined as cells that upon transplantation into irradiated or otherwise immunocompromised adult organisms provide long-term reconstitution of the entire hematopoietic system. They emerge in the vertebrate conceptus around midgestation. Genetic studies have identified a number of transcription factors and signaling molecules that act at the onset of hematopoiesis, and have begun to delineate the molecular mechanisms underlying the formation of HSCs. One molecule that has been a particularly useful marker of this developmental event in multiple species is Runx1 (also known as AML1, Pebp2alpha). Runx1 is a sequence-specific DNA-binding protein, that along with its homologues Runx2 and Runx3 and their shared non-DNA binding subunit CBFbeta, constitute a small family of transcription factors called core-binding factors (CBFs). Runx1 is famous for its role in HSC emergence, and notorious for its involvement in leukemia, as chromosomal rearrangements and inactivating mutations in the human RUNX1 gene are some of the most common events in de novo and therapy-related acute myelogenous leukemia, myelodysplastic syndrome and acute lymphocytic leukemia. Here we will review the role of Runx1 in HSC emergence in the mouse conceptus and describe some of the genetic pathways that operate upstream and downstream of this gene. Where relevant, we will include data obtained from other species and embryonic stem (ES) cell differentiation cultures.
Project description:RUNX1 encodes a DNA binding subunit of the core-binding transcription factors and is frequently mutated in acute leukemia, therapy-related leukemia, myelodysplastic syndrome, and chronic myelomonocytic leukemia. Mutations in RUNX1 are thought to confer upon hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) a pre-leukemic state, but the fundamental properties of Runx1 deficient pre-leukemic HSCs are not well defined. Here we show that Runx1 deficiency decreases both apoptosis and proliferation, but only minimally impacts the frequency of long term repopulating HSCs (LT-HSCs). It has been variously reported that Runx1 loss increases LT-HSC numbers, decreases LT-HSC numbers, or causes age-related HSC exhaustion. We attempt to resolve these discrepancies by showing that Runx1 deficiency alters the expression of several key HSC markers, and that the number of functional LT-HSCs varies depending on the criteria used to score them. Finally, we identify genes and pathways, including the cell cycle and p53 pathways that are dysregulated in Runx1 deficient HSCs.
Project description:Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and an earlier wave of definitive erythroid/myeloid progenitors (EMPs) differentiate from hemogenic endothelial cells in the conceptus. EMPs can be generated in vitro from embryonic or induced pluripotent stem cells, but efforts to produce HSCs have largely failed. The formation of both EMPs and HSCs requires the transcription factor Runx1 and its non-DNA binding partner core binding factor ? (CBF?). Here we show that the requirements for CBF? in EMP and HSC formation in the conceptus are temporally and spatially distinct. Panendothelial expression of CBF? in Tek-expressing cells was sufficient for EMP formation, but was not adequate for HSC formation. Expression of CBF? in Ly6a-expressing cells, on the other hand, was sufficient for HSC, but not EMP, formation. The data indicate that EMPs and HSCs differentiate from distinct populations of hemogenic endothelial cells, with Ly6a expression specifically marking the HSC-generating hemogenic endothelium.
Project description:Studies of hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) development from pre-HSC-producing hemogenic endothelial cells (HECs) are hampered by the rarity of these cells and the presence of other cell types with overlapping marker expression profiles. We generated a Tg(Runx1-mKO2; Ly6a-GFP) dual reporter mouse to visualize hematopoietic commitment and study pre-HSC emergence and maturation. Runx1-mKO2 marked all intra-arterial HECs and hematopoietic cluster cells (HCCs), including pre-HSCs, myeloid- and lymphoid progenitors, and HSCs themselves. However, HSC and lymphoid potential were almost exclusively found in reporter double-positive (DP) cells. Robust HSC activity was first detected in DP cells of the placenta, reflecting the importance of this niche for (pre-)HSC maturation and expansion before the fetal liver stage. A time course analysis by single-cell RNA sequencing revealed that as pre-HSCs mature into fetal liver stage HSCs, they show signs of interferon exposure, exhibit signatures of multi-lineage differentiation gene expression, and develop a prolonged cell cycle reminiscent of quiescent adult HSCs.
Project description:RUNX1 (also known as acute myeloid leukemia 1) is an essential regulator of hematopoiesis and has multiple isoforms arising from differential splicing and utilization of two promoters. We hypothesized that the rare Runx1c isoform has a distinct role in hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs).We have characterized the expression pattern of Runx1c in mouse embryos and human embryonic stem cell (hESC)-derived embryoid bodies using in situ hybridization and expression levels in mouse and human HSCs by real-time polymerase chain reaction. We then determined the functional effects of Runx1c using enforced retroviral overexpression in mouse HSCs.We observed differential expression profiles of RUNX1 isoforms during hematopoietic differentiation of hESCs. The RUNX1a and RUNX1b isoforms were expressed consistently throughout hematopoietic differentiation, whereas the RUNX1c isoform was only expressed at the time of emergence of definitive HSCs. RUNX1c was also expressed in the AGM region of E10.5 to E11.5 mouse embryos, the region where definitive HSCs arise. These observations suggested that the RUNX1c isoform may be important for the specification or function of definitive HSCs. However, using retroviral overexpression to study the effect of RUNX1 isoforms on HSCs in a gain-of-function system, no discernable functional difference could be identified between RUNX1 isoforms in mouse HSCs. Overexpression of both RUNX1b and RUNX1c induced quiescence in mouse HSCs in vitro and in vivo.Although the divergent expression profiles of Runx1 isoforms during development suggest specific roles for these proteins at different stages of HSC maturation, we could not detect an important functional distinction in adult mouse HSCs using our assay systems.
Project description:Recent lineage studies suggest that hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) may be derived from endothelial cells. However, the genetic hierarchy governing the emergence of HSCs remains elusive. We report here that zebrafish ets1-related protein (etsrp), which is essential for vascular endothelial development, also plays a critical role in the initiation of definitive hematopoiesis by controlling the expression of 2 stem cell leukemia (scl) isoforms (scl-alpha and scl-beta) in angioblasts. In etsrp morphants, which are deficient in endothelial and HSC development, scl-alpha alone partially rescues angioblast specification, arterial-venous differentiation, and the expression of HSC markers, runx1 and c-myb, whereas scl-beta requires angioblast rescue by fli1a to restore runx1 expression. Interestingly, when vascular endothelial growth factor (Vegf) signaling is inhibited, HSC marker expression can still be restored by scl-alpha in etsrp morphants, whereas the rescue of arterial ephrinb2a expression is blocked. Furthermore, both scl isoforms partially rescue runx1 but not ephrinb2a expression in embryos deficient in Vegf signaling. Our data suggest that downstream of etsrp, scl-alpha and fli1a specify the angioblasts, whereas scl-beta further initiates HSC specification from this angioblast population, and that Vegf signaling acts upstream of scl-beta during definitive hematopoiesis.
Project description:Monoallelic RUNX1 mutations cause familial platelet disorder with predisposition for acute myelogenous leukemia (FPD/AML). Sporadic mono- and biallelic mutations are found at high frequencies in AML M0, in radiation-associated and therapy-related myelodysplastic syndrome and AML, and in isolated cases of AML M2, M5a, M3 relapse, and chronic myelogenous leukemia in blast phase. Mutations in RUNX2 cause the inherited skeletal disorder cleidocranial dysplasia (CCD). Most hematopoietic missense mutations in Runx1 involve DNA-contacting residues in the Runt domain, whereas the majority of CCD mutations in Runx2 are predicted to impair CBFbeta binding or the Runt domain structure. We introduced different classes of missense mutations into Runx1 and characterized their effects on DNA and CBFbeta binding by the Runt domain, and on Runx1 function in vivo. Mutations involving DNA-contacting residues severely inactivate Runx1 function, whereas mutations that affect CBFbeta binding but not DNA binding result in hypomorphic alleles. We conclude that hypomorphic RUNX2 alleles can cause CCD, whereas hematopoietic disease requires more severely inactivating RUNX1 mutations.
Project description:Haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are the founder cells of the adult haematopoietic system, and thus knowledge of the molecular program directing their generation during development is important for regenerative haematopoietic strategies. Runx1 is a pivotal transcription factor required for HSC generation in the vascular regions of the mouse conceptus-the aorta, vitelline and umbilical arteries, yolk sac and placenta. It is thought that HSCs emerge from vascular endothelial cells through the formation of intra-arterial clusters and that Runx1 functions during the transition from 'haemogenic endothelium' to HSCs. Here we show by conditional deletion that Runx1 activity in vascular-endothelial-cadherin-positive endothelial cells is indeed essential for intra-arterial cluster, haematopoietic progenitor and HSC formation in mice. In contrast, Runx1 is not required in cells expressing Vav1, one of the first pan-haematopoietic genes expressed in HSCs. Collectively these data show that Runx1 function is essential in endothelial cells for haematopoietic progenitor and HSC formation from the vasculature, but its requirement ends once or before Vav is expressed.
Project description:The mouse placenta was unveiled as an important reservoir for hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), yet the origin of placental HSCs was unknown. By tracking developing HSCs by expression of Runx1-lacZ and CD41, we have found that HSCs emerge in large vessels in the placenta. Analysis of Ncx1(-/-) embryos, which lack a heartbeat, verified that HSC development is initiated in the placental vasculature independent of blood flow. However, fewer CD41+ hematopoietic cells were found in Ncx1(-/-) placentas than in controls, implying that some HSCs/progenitors colonize the placenta via circulation and/or HSC emergence is compromised without blood flow. Importantly, placentas from Ncx1(-/-) embryos possessed equal potential to generate myelo-erythroid and B and T lymphoid cells upon explant culture, verifying intact multilineage hematopoietic potential, characteristic of developing HSCs. These data suggest that, in addition to providing a niche for a large pool of HSCs prior to liver colonization, the placenta is a true site of HSC generation.
Project description:Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells often co-opt normal hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) programs to drive neoplastic proliferation, and HSC-related gene expression signatures have been identified as biomarkers for poor prognosis in AML patients. We sought to identify new regulators of HSCs and AML cells from previously published HSC and leukemia stem cell (LSC) gene expression signatures. We identified PRKCH (protein kinase C eta) as a gene that is highly expressed in both mouse and human HSCs, as well as in LSCs from independent cohorts of AML patients. Prkch deletion in mice resulted in impaired HSC function. PRKCH was most highly expressed in undifferentiated (FAB M0) subtype AML, and high expression correlated with TP53 and RUNX1 mutations, high-risk cytogenetic features, and poor overall survival. Prkch deletion in an Flt3-ITD/Runx1 mutant mouse AML model did not extend survival. Thus, PRKCH is necessary for normal HSC function; its expression predicts poor survival in AML patients, but it is not required for AML to develop.
Project description:Defining the genetic pathways essential for hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) development remains a fundamental goal impacting stem cell biology and regenerative medicine. To genetically dissect HSC emergence in the aorta-gonad-mesonephros (AGM) region, we screened a collection of insertional zebrafish mutant lines for expression of the HSC marker, c-myb. Nine essential genes were identified, which were subsequently binned into categories representing their proximity to HSC induction. Using overexpression and loss-of-function studies in zebrafish, we ordered these signaling pathways with respect to each other and to the Vegf, Notch, and Runx programs. Overexpression of vegf and notch is sufficient to induce HSCs in the tbx16 mutant, despite a lack of axial vascular organization. Although embryos deficient for artery specification, such as the phospholipase C gamma-1 (plcgamma1) mutant, fail to specify HSCs, overexpression of notch or runx1 can rescue their hematopoietic defect. The most proximal HSC mutants, such as hdac1, were found to have no defect in vessel or artery formation. Further analysis demonstrated that hdac1 acts downstream of Notch signaling but upstream or in parallel to runx1 to promote AGM hematopoiesis. Together, our results establish a hierarchy of signaling programs required and sufficient for HSC emergence in the AGM.