Functional EpoR is expressed in subsets of tissue macrophages and hematopoietic cells.
EpoR-tdTomato-Cre mouse line provides a powerful tool for identification of EpoR expression and gene manipulation in EpoR-expressing cells.
The erythropoietin receptor (EpoR) has traditionally been thought of as an erythroid-specific gene. Notably, accumulating evidence suggests that EpoR is expressed well beyond erythroid cells. However, the expression of EpoR in non-erythroid cells has been controversial. In this study, we generated EpoR-tdTomato-Cre mice and used them to examine the expression of EpoR in tissue macrophages and hematopoietic cells. We show that in marked contrast to the previously available EpoR-eGFPcre mice, in which a very weak eGFP signal was detected in erythroid cells, tdTomato was readily detectable in both fetal liver (FL) and bone marrow (BM) erythroid cells at all developmental stages and exhibited dynamic changes during erythropoiesis. Consistent with our recent finding that erythroblastic island (EBI) macrophages are characterized by the expression of EpoR, tdTomato was readily detected in both FL and BM EBI macrophages. Moreover, tdTomato was also detected in subsets of hematopoietic stem cells, progenitors, megakaryocytes, and B cells in BM as well as in spleen red pulp macrophages and liver Kupffer cells. The expression of EpoR was further shown by the EpoR-tdTomato-Cre–mediated excision of the floxed STOP sequence. Importantly, EPO injection selectively promoted proliferation of the EpoR-expressing cells and induced erythroid lineage bias during hematopoiesis. Our findings imply broad roles for EPO/EpoR in hematopoiesis that warrant further investigation. The EpoR-tdTomato-Cre mouse line provides a powerful tool to facilitate future studies on EpoR expression and regulation in various non-hematopoietic cells and to conditionally manipulate gene expression in EpoR-expressing cells for functional studies.