Abstract 1492

Poster Board I-515

Previous studies have established an important role for reactive oxygen species (ROS) in regulating the function and life-span of hematopoietic stem cells (HSC). Nuclear factor erythroid-2–related factor 2 (Nrf2) is a redox-sensitive transcription factor that regulates cellular responses to ROS and detoxification pathways implicated in chemoresistance, however, its role in normal stem cells is unknown. We analyzed Nrf2null mice and found increased total bone marrow cellularity, cKit+Sca1+Lin (KSL) stem-progenitor cells, and long-term quiescent HSC (CD34KSL) compared to wild type mice (p<0.05). Transplantation of equal numbers of KSL cells from Nrf2wt and Nrf2null resulted in a five-fold decrease in peripheral blood chimerism from Nrf2null derived cells at 16 weeks (15% wild type vs. 3% null, p<0.05). Unlike other models of deficiencies in genes associated with ROS handling, such as ATM or the FoxO family of transcription factors, basal ROS levels were not elevated in Nrf2null HSC. However, Nrf2null bone marrow cells demonstrated increased sensitivity to induced oxidative stress and in vitro treatment with H2O2 resulted in a 2 fold decrease in colony formation in methylcellulose. We also examined the in vivo sensitivity of Nrf2null cells to oxidative stress by irradiating (400 rads) stably chimeric mice 20 weeks following transplantation with either Nrf2wt or Nrf2null HSC. Mice receiving Nrf2null HSC demonstrated a 50% decrease in peripheral blood chimerism at 4 months following radiation compared to no change in Nrf2wt recipients (p<0.05) confirming that loss of Nrf2 leads to increased sensitivity to oxidative stress. Microarray gene expression analysis from Nrf2wt and Nrf2null mice revealed down regulation of the G-CSF cytokine receptor in Nrf2null HSC and suggested that defective cytokine signaling may contribute to the HSC dysfunction seen in Nrf2null bone marrow cells. To test this hypothesis, we attempted to rescue the function of Nrf2null HSC by treating mice with exogenous G-CSF. Nrf2wt and Nrf2null mice were treated with one week of daily G-CSF and then HSC were harvested and transplanted. In contrast to the defects in engraftment of untreated Nrf2null HSC, there was no significant difference in peripheral blood chimerism following transplantation of G-CSF treated Nrf2wt or Nrf2null HSC, thus demonstrating that G-CSF treatment could rescue the HSC defect in mutant mice. In conclusion, the Nrf2 transcription factor appears to be a novel and essential regulator of normal HSC function through the modulation of oxidative stress response and cytokine signaling.


No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.