Even though hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are characterized by their ability to self-renew and differentiate, they primarily reside in quiescence. Despite the immense importance of this quiescent state, its maintenance and regulation is still incompletely understood. Schlafen2 (Slfn2) is a cytoplasmic protein known to be involved in cell proliferation, differentiation, quiescence, interferon response, and regulation of the immune system. Interestingly, Slfn2 is highly expressed in primitive hematopoietic cells. To investigate the role of Slfn2 in the regulation of HSCs we have studied HSC function in the elektra mouse model, where the elektra allele of the Slfn2 gene contains a point mutation causing loss of function of the Slfn2 protein. We found that homozygosity for the elektra allele caused a decrease of primitive hematopoietic compartments in murine bone marrow. We further found that transplantation of elektra bone marrow and purified HSCs resulted in a significantly reduced regenerative capacity of HSCs in competitive transplantation settings. Importantly, we found that a significantly higher fraction of elektra HSCs (as compared to WT HSCs) were actively cycling, suggesting that the mutation in Slfn2 increases HSC proliferation. This additionally caused an increased amount of apoptotic stem and progenitor cells. Taken together, our findings demonstrate that dysregulation of Slfn2 results in a functional deficiency of primitive hematopoietic cells, which is particularly reflected by a drastically impaired ability to reconstitute the hematopoietic system following transplantation and an increase in HSC proliferation. This study thus i dentifies S lfn2 as a n ov el a nd critical regulator of a dult H SCs and HSC quiescence.
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