Several members of the Kruppel-like factor (KLF) family of transcription factors play important roles in differentiation, survival, and trafficking of blood and immune cell types. We demonstrate here that hematopoietic cells from KLF4−/− fetal livers (FL) contained normal numbers of functional hematopoietic progenitor cells, were radioprotective, and performed as well as KLF4+/+ cells in competitive repopulation assays. However, hematopoietic “KLF4−/− chimeras” generated by transplantation of KLF4−/− FL cells into lethally irradiated wild-type (wt) mice completely lacked circulating inflammatory (CD115+Gr1+) monocytes, and had reduced numbers of resident (CD115+Gr1) monocytes. While the numbers and function of peritoneal macrophages were normal in KLF4−/− chimeras, bone marrow monocytic cells from KLF4−/− chimeras expressed lower levels of key trafficking molecules and were more apoptotic. Thus, our in vivo loss-of-function studies demonstrate that KLF4, previously shown to mediate proinflammatory signaling in human macrophages in vitro, is essential for differentiation of mouse inflammatory monocytes, and is involved in the differentiation of resident monocytes. In addition, inducible expression of KLF4 in the HL60 human acute myeloid leukemia cell line stimulated monocytic differentiation. The inflammation-selective effects of loss-of-KLF4 and the gain-of-KLF4-induced monocytic differentiation in HL60 cells identify KLF4 as a key regulator of monocytic differentiation and a potential target for translational immune modulation.

Author notes

Disclosure:Financial Information: The Johns Hopkins University holds patents on CD34 monoclonal antibodies and inventions related to stem cells. Dr. Civin is entitled to a share of the sales royalty received by the University under licensing agreements between the University, Becton Dickinson Corporation and Baxter HealthCare Corporation. The terms of this arrangement are being managed by the Johns Hopkins University in accordance with its conflict of interest policies.