Utx deficiency genetically compromises various metabolic and signaling pathways and phenotypically induces hematopoietic aging.
UTX maintains hematopoietic stem cell function via both demethylase-dependent and -independent epigenetic programming.
Epigenetic regulation is essential for the maintenance of the hematopoietic system, and its deregulation is implicated in hematopoietic disorders. In this study, UTX, a demethylase for lysine 27 on histone H3 (H3K27) and a component of COMPASS-like and SWI/SNF complexes, played an essential role in the hematopoietic system by globally regulating aging-associated genes. Utx-deficient (UtxΔ/Δ) mice exhibited myeloid skewing with dysplasia, extramedullary hematopoiesis, impaired hematopoietic reconstituting ability, and increased susceptibility to leukemia, which are the hallmarks of hematopoietic aging. RNA-sequencing (RNA-seq) analysis revealed that Utx deficiency converted the gene expression profiles of young hematopoietic stem-progenitor cells (HSPCs) to those of aged HSPCs. Utx expression in hematopoietic stem cells declined with age, and UtxΔ/Δ HSPCs exhibited increased expression of an aging-associated marker, accumulation of reactive oxygen species, and impaired repair of DNA double-strand breaks. Pathway and chromatin immunoprecipitation analyses coupled with RNA-seq data indicated that UTX contributed to hematopoietic homeostasis mainly by maintaining the expression of genes downregulated with aging via demethylase-dependent and -independent epigenetic programming. Of note, comparison of pathway changes in UtxΔ/Δ HSPCs, aged muscle stem cells, aged fibroblasts, and aged induced neurons showed substantial overlap, strongly suggesting common aging mechanisms among different tissue stem cells.