Chd8 gene targeting in mice causes HSPC apoptosis and hematopoiesis failure.
CHD8 organizes chromatin to maintain proper ATM-P53 cell survival signaling in HSPCs.
The Chd8 gene encodes a member of the chromodomain helicase DNA-binding (CHD) family of SNF2H-like adenosine triphosphate (ATP)-dependent chromatin remodeler, the mutations of which define a subtype of autism spectrum disorders. Increasing evidence from recent studies indicates that ATP-dependent chromatin-remodeling genes are involved in the control of crucial gene-expression programs in hematopoietic stem/progenitor cell (HSPC) regulation. In this study, we identified CHD8 as a specific and essential regulator of normal hematopoiesis. Loss of Chd8 leads to severe anemia, pancytopenia, bone marrow failure, and engraftment failure related to a drastic depletion of HSPCs. CHD8 forms a complex with ATM and its deficiency increases chromatin accessibility and drives genomic instability in HSPCs causing an activation of ATM kinase that further stabilizes P53 protein by phosphorylation and leads to increased HSPC apoptosis. Deletion of P53 rescues the apoptotic defects of HSPCs and restores overall hematopoiesis in Chd8−/− mice. Our findings demonstrate that chromatin organization by CHD8 is uniquely necessary for the maintenance of hematopoiesis by integrating the ATM-P53–mediated survival of HSPCs.