Dopamine signaling influences hematopoietic stem cell maintenance, HSPC proliferation, and transplantation efficiency.
Dopamine maintains Lck expression to control stem cell factor–induced ERK signaling downstream of c-Kit.
Hematopoietic stem and progenitor cell (HSPC) function in bone marrow (BM) is controlled by stroma-derived signals, but the identity and interplay of these signals remain incompletely understood. Here, we show that sympathetic nerve–derived dopamine directly controls HSPC behavior through D2 subfamily dopamine receptors. Blockade of dopamine synthesis, as well as pharmacological or genetic inactivation of D2 subfamily dopamine receptors, leads to reduced HSPC frequency, inhibition of proliferation, and low BM transplantation efficiency. Conversely, treatment with a D2-type receptor agonist increases BM regeneration and transplantation efficiency. Mechanistically, dopamine controls expression of the lymphocyte-specific protein tyrosine kinase (Lck), which, in turn, regulates MAPK-mediated signaling triggered by stem cell factor in HSPCs. Our work reveals critical functional roles of dopamine in HSPCs, which may open up new therapeutic options for improved BM transplantation and other conditions requiring the rapid expansion of HSPCs.