Fbw7 is a SCF ubiquitin ligase component that catalyzes the ubiquitination of c-Myc, Cyclin E, and Notch. In several human cancer cell lines and primary cancer cells, Fbw7 is mutated and functions as a tumor suppressor gene. Previously we have reported that Fbw7-deficient mice died at embryonic day 10.5–11.5 with deficiencies in hematopoietic and vascular development, indicating that Fbw7 has a pivotal role in hematopoiesis (Tsunematsu R et al. J Biol Chem. 2004). Fbw7 is widely expressed in various hematopoietic lineages in BM of adult mice, but little has been known about the function of Fbw7 in hematopoiesis. To assess the requirement of Fbw7 in adult hematopoietic cells, we generated Fbw7-deficient mice by conditional gene targeting. Fbw7 was conditionally deleted from Mx-1-Cre;Fbw7fl/− adult mice by injection of pIpC over 1 week to induce Cre expression. We examined Fbw7fl/+ littermates as a control. We found progressive pancytopenia in Fbw7-deficient mice. Furthermore, most Fbw7-deficient mice developed leukemia (mainly ALL) within 3 months after pIpC treatment, suggesting that Fbw7 is essential to maintain normal hematopoiesis and loss of Fbw7 accelerates leukemogenesis. The portion of Fbw7-deficient LinSca-1+c-Kit+CD34 hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) in the G0 phase was 2.5-fold decreased and the frequency of cell division of Fbw7-deficient HSCs markedly increased in culture. These data suggest that Fbw7 promotes quiescence of HSCs. To examine the function of Fbw7-deficient HSCs, we transplanted 1500 LinSca-1+cKit+ BM cells from Fbw7-dificient mice or littermate controls into lethally irradiated recipient mice with 4×105 normal BM mononuclear cells. In the result, Fbw7-deficient HSCs are impaired in long-term repopulating activity and multipotency. It has been reported that c-Myc controls the self-renewal activity of HSCs through the cell adhesion to the osteoblastic niche (Wilson A et al. Genes Dev. 2004). We found that c-Myc is significantly accumulated in Fbw7-deficient LinSca-1+cKit+ BM cells, suggesting that HSCs leave the niche and show the active cell cycling. We propose that a ubiquitin ligase, Fbw7 is a key mediator of HSC quiescence and self renewal capacity.

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