Key Points

  • bcas2 is a novel factor required for HSPC maintenance in zebrafish embryos.

  • Deletion of bcas2 triggers alternative splicing of Mdm4 and upregulation of p53 activation during HSPC development.


Hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) originate from the hemogenic endothelium via the endothelial-to-hematopoietic transition, are self-renewing, and replenish all lineages of blood cells throughout life. BCAS2 (breast carcinoma amplified sequence 2) is a component of the spliceosome and is involved in multiple biological processes. However, its role in hematopoiesis remains unknown. We established a bcas2 knockout zebrafish model by using transcription activator–like effector nucleases. The bcas2−/− zebrafish showed severe impairment of HSPCs and their derivatives during definitive hematopoiesis. We also observed significant signs of HSPC apoptosis in the caudal hematopoietic tissue of bcas2−/− zebrafish, which may be rescued by suppression of p53. Furthermore, we show that the bcas2 deletion induces an abnormal alternative splicing of Mdm4 that predisposes cells to undergo p53-mediated apoptosis, which provides a mechanistic explanation of the deficiency observed in HSPCs. Our findings revealed a novel and vital role for BCAS2 during HSPC maintenance in zebrafish.

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