Key Points

  • Inhibition of Lysine-specific demethylase 1A (LSD1) promotes the propagation of human HSCs in vitro.

  • LSD1 containing CoREST complex is a primary target of the HSC expansion molecule UM171.

Culture conditions in which hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) can be expanded for clinical benefit are highly sought after. Here, we report that inhibition of the epigenetic regulator Lysine-specific histone demethylase 1A (LSD1) induces a rapid expansion of human cord blood derived CD34+ cells and promotes in vitro propagation of long-term repopulating HSCs by preventing differentiation. The phenotype and molecular characteristics of cells treated with LSD1 inhibitors were highly similar to cells treated with UM171, an agent promoting expansion of HSCs through undefined mechanisms, and currently tested in clinical trials. Strikingly, we found that LSD1 as well as other members of the LSD1 containing chromatin remodeling complex CoREST are rapidly poly-ubiquitinated and degraded upon UM171 treatment. CRISPR/Cas9 depletion of the CoREST core member, RCOR1, resulted in expansion of CD34+ cells similar to LSD1 inhibition and UM171. Taken together, LSD1 and CoREST restrict HSC expansion, and are principal targets of UM171, forming a mechanistic basis for the HSC promoting activity of UM171.

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