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.

Abstract

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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