Erythropoietin regulation of red blood cell production: from bench to bedside and back.
ABSTRACT: More than 50 years of efforts to identify the major cytokine responsible for red blood cell (RBC) production (erythropoiesis) led to the identification of erythropoietin (EPO) in 1977 and its receptor (EPOR) in 1989, followed by three decades of rich scientific discovery. We now know that an elaborate oxygen-sensing mechanism regulates the production of EPO, which in turn promotes the maturation and survival of erythroid progenitors. Engagement of the EPOR by EPO activates three interconnected signaling pathways that drive RBC production via diverse downstream effectors and simultaneously trigger negative feedback loops to suppress signaling activity. Together, the finely tuned mechanisms that drive endogenous EPO production and facilitate its downstream activities have evolved to maintain RBC levels in a narrow physiological range and to respond rapidly to erythropoietic stresses such as hypoxia or blood loss. Examination of these pathways has elucidated the genetics of numerous inherited and acquired disorders associated with deficient or excessive RBC production and generated valuable drugs to treat anemia, including recombinant human EPO and more recently the prolyl hydroxylase inhibitors, which act partly by stimulating endogenous EPO synthesis. Ongoing structure-function studies of the EPOR and its essential partner, tyrosine kinase JAK2, suggest that it may be possible to generate new "designer" drugs that control selected subsets of cytokine receptor activities for therapeutic manipulation of hematopoiesis and treatment of blood cancers.
Project description:Erythropoietin (EPO) is a well-known erythropoietic cytokine having a tissue-protective effect in various tissues against hypoxic stress, including the brain. Thus, its recombinants may function as neuroprotective compounds. However, despite considerable neuroprotective effects, the EPO-based therapeutic approach has side effects, including hyper-erythropoietic and tumorigenic effects. Therefore, some modified forms and derivatives of EPO have been proposed to minimize the side effects. In this study, we generated divergently modified new peptide analogs derived from helix C of EPO, with several amino acid replacements that interact with erythropoietin receptors (EPORs). This modification resulted in unique binding potency to EPOR. Unlike recombinant EPO, among the peptides, ML1-h3 exhibited a potent neuroprotective effect against oxidative stress without additional induction of cell-proliferation, owing to a differential activating mode of EPOR signaling. Furthermore, it inhibited neuronal death and brain injury under hypoxic stress in vitro and in an in vivo ischemic brain injury model. Therefore, the divergent modification of EPO-derivatives for affinity to EPOR could provide a basis for a more advanced and optimal neuroprotective strategy.
Project description:Erythropoietin (Epo) and its cognate receptor (EpoR) are required for maintaining adequate levels of circulating erythrocytes during embryogenesis and adulthood. Here, we report the functional characterization of the zebrafish epo and epor genes. The expression of epo and epor was evaluated by quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and whole-mount in situ hybridization, revealing marked parallels between zebrafish and mammalian gene expression patterns. Examination of the hypochromic mutant, weissherbst, and adult hypoxia-treated hearts indicate that zebrafish epo expression is induced by anemia and hypoxia. Overexpression of epo mRNA resulted in severe polycythemia, characterized by a striking increase in the number of cells expressing scl, c-myb, gata1, ikaros, epor, and betae1-globin, suggesting that both the erythroid progenitor and mature erythrocyte compartments respond to epo. Morpholino-mediated knockdown of the epor caused a slight decrease in primitive and complete block of definitive erythropoiesis. Abrogation of STAT5 blocked the erythropoietic expansion by epo mRNA, consistent with a requirement for STAT5 in epo signaling. Together, the characterization of zebrafish epo and epor demonstrates the conservation of an ancient program that ensures proper red blood cell numbers during normal homeostasis and under hypoxic conditions.
Project description:Erythropoietin (Epo), along with its receptor EpoR, is the principal regulator of red cell development. Upon Epo addition, the EpoR signaling through the Janus kinase 2 (JAK2) activates multiple pathways including Stat5, phosphoinositide-3 kinase (PI-3K)/Akt, and p42/44 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK). The adaptor protein Lnk is implicated in cytokine receptor signaling. Here, we showed that Lnk-deficient mice have elevated numbers of erythroid progenitors, and that splenic erythroid colony-forming unit (CFU-e) progenitors are hypersensitive to Epo. Lnk(-/-) mice also exhibit superior recovery after erythropoietic stress. In addition, Lnk deficiency resulted in enhanced Epo-induced signaling pathways in splenic erythroid progenitors. Conversely, Lnk overexpression inhibits Epo-induced cell growth in 32D/EpoR cells. In primary culture of fetal liver cells, Lnk overexpression inhibits Epo-dependent erythroblast differentiation and induces apoptosis. Lnk blocks 3 major signaling pathways, Stat5, Akt, and MAPK, induced by Epo in primary erythroblasts. In addition, the Lnk Src homology 2 (SH2) domain is essential for its inhibitory function, whereas the conserved tyrosine near the C-terminus and the pleckstrin homology (PH) domain of Lnk are not critical. Furthermore, wild-type Lnk, but not the Lnk SH2 mutant, becomes tyrosine-phosphorylated following Epo administration and inhibits EpoR phosphorylation and JAK2 activation. Hence, Lnk, through its SH2 domain, negatively modulates EpoR signaling by attenuating JAK2 activation, and regulates Epo-mediated erythropoiesis.
Project description:Erythropoietin (EPO) is the principal cytokine regulating erythropoiesis through its receptor, EPOR. Interestingly, EPORs are also found on immune cells with incompletely understood functions. Here, we show that EPO inhibits the induction of proinflammatory genes including tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-? and inducible nitric oxide (NO) synthase in activated macrophages, which is mechanistically attributable to blockage of nuclear factor (NF)-?B p65 activation by EPO. Accordingly, in systemic Salmonella infection, treatment of mice with EPO results in reduced survival and impaired pathogen clearance because of diminished formation of anti-microbial effector molecules such as TNF-? and NO. However, neutralization of endogenous EPO or genetic ablation of Epor promotes Salmonella elimination. In contrast, in chemically induced colitis, EPO-EPOR interaction decreases the production of NF-?B-inducible immune mediators, thus limiting tissue damage and ameliorating disease severity. These immune-modulatory effects of EPO may be of therapeutic relevance in infectious and inflammatory diseases.
Project description:Erythropoietin (Epo) binding to the Epo receptor (EpoR) elicits downstream signaling that is essential for red blood cell production. One important negative regulatory mechanism to terminate Epo signaling is Epo-induced EpoR endocytosis and degradation. Defects in this mechanism play a key role in the overproduction of erythrocytes in primary familial and congenital polycythemia (PFCP). Here we have identified a novel mechanism mediating Epo-dependent EpoR internalization. Epo induces Cbl-dependent ubiquitination of the p85 regulatory subunit of PI3K, which binds to phosphotyrosines on EpoR. Ubiquitination allows p85 to interact with the endocytic protein epsin-1, thereby driving EpoR endocytosis. Knockdown of Cbl, expression of its dominant negative forms, or expression of an epsin-1 mutant devoid of ubiquitin-interacting motifs all compromise Epo-induced EpoR internalization. Mutated EpoRs mimicking those from PFCP patients cannot bind p85, co-localize with epsin-1, or internalize on Epo stimulation and exhibit Epo hypersensitivity. Similarly, knockdown of Cbl also causes Epo hypersensitivity in primary erythroid progenitors. Restoring p85 binding to PFCP receptors rescues Epo-induced epsin-1 co-localization and EpoR internalization and normalizes Epo hypersensitivity. Our results uncover a novel Cbl/p85/epsin-1 pathway in EpoR endocytosis and show that defects in this pathway contribute to excessive Epo signaling and erythroid hyperproliferation in PFCP.
Project description:Epo's erythropoietic capacity is ascribed largely to its antiapoptotic actions. In part via gene profiling of bone marrow erythroblasts, Epo is now shown to selectively down-modulate the adhesion/migration factors chemokine receptor-4 (Cxcr4) and integrin alpha-4 (Itga4) and to up-modulate growth differentiation factor-3 (Gdf3), oncostatin-M (OncoM), and podocalyxin like-1 (PODXL). For PODXL, Epo dose-dependent expression of this CD34-related sialomucin was discovered in Kit(+)CD71(high) proerythroblasts and was sustained at subsequent Kit(-)CD71(high) and Ter119(+) stages. In vivo, Epo markedly induced PODXL expression in these progenitors and in marrow-resident reticulocytes. This was further associated with a rapid release of PODXL(+) reticulocytes to blood. As studied in erythroblasts expressing minimal Epo receptor (EpoR) alleles, efficient PODXL induction proved dependence on an EpoR-PY343 Stat5 binding site. Moreover, in mice expressing an EpoR-HM F343 allele, compromised Epo-induced PODXL expression correlated with abnormal anucleated red cell representation in marrow. By modulating this select set of cell-surface adhesion molecules and chemokines, Epo is proposed to mobilize erythroblasts from a hypothesized stromal niche and possibly promote reticulocyte egress to blood.
Project description:Erythropoietin (EPO) is not only an erythropoiesis hormone but also an immune-regulatory cytokine. The receptors of EPO (EPOR)<sub>2</sub> and tissue-protective receptor (TPR), mediate EPO's immune regulation. Our group firstly reported a non-erythropoietic peptide derivant of EPO, cyclic helix B peptide (CHBP), which could inhibit macrophages inflammation and dendritic cells (DCs) maturation. As a kind of innate immune regulatory cell, myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) share a common myeloid progenitor with macrophages and DCs. In this study, we investigated the effects on MDSCs differentiation and immunosuppressive function via CHBP induction. CHBP promoted MDSCs differentiate toward M-MDSCs with enhanced immunosuppressive capability. Infusion of CHBP-induced M-MDSCs significantly prolonged murine skin allograft survival compared to its counterpart without CHBP stimulation. In addition, we found CHBP increased the proportion of CD11b<sup>+</sup>Ly6G<sup>-</sup>Ly6C<sup>high</sup> CD127<sup>+</sup> M-MDSCs, which exerted a stronger immunosuppressive function compared to CD11b<sup>+</sup>Ly6G<sup>-</sup>Ly6C<sup>high</sup> CD127<sup>-</sup> M-MDSCs. In CHBP induced M-MDSCs, we found that EPOR downstream signal proteins Jak2 and STAT3 were upregulated, which had a strong relationship with MDSC function. In addition, CHBP upregulated GATA-binding protein 3 (GATA-3) protein translation level, which was an upstream signal of CD127 and regulator of STAT3. These effects of CHBP could be reversed if Epor was deficient. Our novel findings identified a new subset of M-MDSCs with better immunosuppressive capability, which was induced by the EPOR-mediated Jak2/GATA3/STAT3 pathway. These results are beneficial for CHBP clinical translation and MDSC cell therapy in the future.
Project description:Background:Erythropoietin (EPO), a pleiotropic cytokine, binds to its receptor (EPOR) in bone marrow, activating a signaling cascade that results in red blood cell proliferation. A recently discovered naturally occurring EPO mutation (R150Q) at active site 1 (AS1) of the protein was shown to attenuate its canonical downstream signaling, eliminating its hematopoietic effects and causing a fatal anemia. The purpose of this work was to analyze the EPO-EPOR complex computationally to provide a structural explanation for this signaling change. Materials and methods:Computational structural biology analyses and molecular dynamics simulations were used to determine key interaction differences between the R150Q mutant and the wild-type form of EPO. Both were compared to another variant mutated at the same position, R150E, which also lacks hematopoietic activity. Results:The ligand-receptor interactions of the R150Q and R150E mutants showed significant variations in how they interacted with EPOR at AS1 of the EPO-EPOR complex. Both lost specific reported salt bridges previously associated with full complex activation. Conclusion:This work describes how the ligand-receptor interactions at AS1 of the EPO- EPOR complex respond to mutations at the 150th position. The interactions at AS1 were used to propose a potential mechanism by which the binding of EPO to the extracellular domain of EPOR influences its cytosolic domain and the resulting signaling cascade.
Project description:The blood hormone erythropoietin (EPO), upon binding to its receptor (EpoR), modulates high-fat diet-induced (HFD-induced) obesity in mice, improves glucose tolerance, and prevents white adipose tissue inflammation. Transgenic mice with constitutive overexpression of human EPO solely in the brain (Tg21) were used to assess the neuroendocrine EPO effect without increasing the hematocrit. Male Tg21 mice resisted HFD-induced weight gain; showed lower serum adrenocorticotropic hormone, corticosterone, and C-reactive protein levels; and prevented myeloid cell recruitment to the hypothalamus compared with WT male mice. HFD-induced hypothalamic inflammation (HI) and microglial activation were higher in male mice, and Tg21 male mice exhibited a lower increase in HI than WT male mice. Physiological EPO function in the brain also showed sexual dimorphism in regulating HFD response. Female estrogen production blocked reduced weight gain and HI. Targeted deletion of EpoR gene expression in neuronal cells worsened HFD-induced glucose intolerance in both male and female mice but increased weight gain and HI in the hypothalamus in male mice only. Both male and female Tg21 mice kept on normal chow and HFD showed significantly improved glycemic control. Our data indicate that cerebral EPO regulates weight gain and HI in a sex-dependent response, distinct from EPO regulation of glycemic control, and independent of erythropoietic EPO response.
Project description:Erythropoietin (EPO) has both erythropoietic and tissue-protective properties. The EPO analogues carbamylated EPO (CEPO) and pyroglutamate helix B surface peptide (pHBSP) lack the erythropoietic activity of EPO but retain the tissue-protective properties that are mediated by a heterocomplex of EPO receptor (EPOR) and the ? common receptor (?CR). We studied the action of EPO and its analogues in a model of wound healing where a bovine aortic endothelial cells (BAECs) monolayer was scratched and the scratch closure was assessed over 24 h under different oxygen concentrations. We related the effects of EPO and its analogues on repair to their effect on BAECs proliferation and migration (evaluated using a micro-Boyden chamber). EPO, CEPO and pHBSP enhanced scratch closure only at lower oxygen (5%), while their effect at atmospheric oxygen (21%) was not significant. The mRNA expression of EPOR was doubled in 5% compared with 21% oxygen, and this was associated with increased EPOR assessed by immunofluorescence and Western blot. By contrast, ?CR mRNA levels were similar in 5% and 21% oxygen. EPO and its analogues increased both BAECs proliferation and migration, suggesting that both may be involved in the reparative process. The priming effect of low oxygen tension on the action of tissue-protective cytokines may be of relevance to vascular disease, including atherogenesis and restenosis.