• Hepatocyte-specific Notch1 deficiency impairs hepatic thrombopoietin production and reduces circulating platelet number.

  • Dll4 on desialylated platelets activates hepatocyte Notch1 signaling and upregulates HES5 expression, leading to JAK2/STAT3 phosphorylation.

Notch signaling regulates cell-fate decisions in several developmental processes and cell functions. However, a role for Notch in hepatic thrombopoietin (TPO) production remains unclear. We noted thrombocytopenia in mice with hepatic Notch1 deficiency, and so investigated TPO production and other features of platelets in these mice. We found that the liver ultrastructure and hepatocyte function were comparable between control mice and Notch1-deficient mice. However, the Notch1-deficient mice had significantly lower plasma TPO and hepatic TPO mRNA levels, concomitant with lower numbers of platelets and impaired megakaryocyte differentiation and maturation, which were rescued by addition of exogenous TPO. Additionally, JAK2/STAT3 phosphorylation was significantly inhibited in Notch1-deficient hepatocytes, consistent with the RNA-seq analysis. JAK2/STAT3 phosphorylation and TPO production was also impaired in cultured Notch1-deficient hepatocytes after treatment with desialylated platelets. Consistently, hepatocyte-specific Notch1 deletion inhibited JAK2/STAT3 phosphorylation and hepatic TPO production induced by administration of desialylated platelets in vivo. Interestingly, Notch1 deficiency downregulated the expression of HES5 but not HES1. Moreover, desialylated platelets promoted the binding of HES5 to JAK2/STAT3, leading to JAK2/STAT3 phosphorylation and pathway activation in hepatocytes. Hepatocyte Ashwell-Morell receptor (AMR) (asialoglycoprotein receptor 1, ASGR1) physically associates with Notch1 and inhibition of AMR impaired Notch1 signaling activation and hepatic TPO production. Furthermore, blockage of Dll4 on desialylated platelets inhibited hepatocyte Notch1 activation and HES5 expression, JAK2/STAT3 phosphorylation and subsequent TPO production. In conclusion, our study identifies a novel regulatory role of Notch1 in hepatic TPO production, indicating that it might be a target for modulating TPO level.

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