Key Points

  • A dual signal from c-Kit and VEGFR-2 determines selective activation of HSCs and MPP2 in response to acute immune thrombocytopenia.

  • VEGF-A and PDGF-BB relocalize stem cell factor in megakaryocytes, triggering proliferation of HSPCs.


Although bone marrow niche cells are essential for hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) maintenance, their interaction in response to stress is not well defined. Here, we used a mouse model of acute thrombocytopenia to investigate the cross talk between HSCs and niche cells during restoration of the thrombocyte pool. This process required membrane-localized stem cell factor (m-SCF) in megakaryocytes, which was regulated, in turn, by vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) and platelet-derived growth factor-BB (PDGF-BB). HSCs and multipotent progenitors type 2 (MPP2), but not MPP3/4, were subsequently activated by a dual-receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK)–dependent signaling event, m-SCF/c-Kit and VEGF-A/vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 (VEGFR-2), contributing to their selective and early proliferation. Our findings describe a dynamic network of signals in response to the acute loss of a single blood cell type and reveal the important role of 3 RTKs and their ligands in orchestrating the selective activation of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) in thrombocytopenia.

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