Abstract 3620

Poster Board III-556

PIK3CA, which encodes the p110α catalytic isoform of PI3 kinase (PI3K), is mutated in many human cancers, and is an attractive therapeutic target. However, PI3K may also be important during hematopoiesis, as it is activated by hematopoietic growth factor receptors which control hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) and progenitor proliferation, differentiation, and self-renewal, such as erythropoietin receptor (epoR), c-kit receptor, and fms-like tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3). In hematopoietic cells, receptor tyrosine kinases signal through the catalytic p110 subunit of PI3K, which has 3 isoforms (α, β, δ). However, the roles of PI3K and its specific catalytic isoforms in normal HSC function are poorly understood. We hypothesized that signaling through the p110α isoform is important for hematopoiesis and HSC self-renewal. We have used the Cre-loxP system to delete p110α in the HSCs of adult mice by breeding p110αF/F mice to Mx1-Cre transgenic mice. p110αF/F;Mx1-Cre+ (Cre+) mice and their p110αF/F (Cre-) littermates were injected with PolyI-PolyC (pIpC) at 4-6 weeks of age to induce Cre-mediated excision at the PIK3CA locus specifically in hematopoietic cells. Deletion of p110α in the bone marrow (BM) was verified by PCR and by immunoblot. We observed that, by four weeks after pIpC treatment, Cre+ mice developed microcytic anemia compared with Cre- littermates, characterized by a decreased mean hemoglobin (p<0.0001) and decreased mean corpuscular volume, while white blood cell counts and platelet counts were unaffected. Cre+ mice also had significantly decreased spleen, liver, and thymus weights. Flow cytometry analyses of bone marrow and spleen cells revealed a relative block in erythropoiesis in the spleens of Cre+ mice, with expansion of the basophilic erythroblast population, and a decrease in the most mature nucleated erythroblast population. Colony assays of splenocytes in erythropoietin-containing methylcellulose medium revealed a 52% decrease in BFU-E colony formation by p110α-deleted cells in response to erythropoietin, suggesting that loss of p110α may lead to blunted epoR signaling (p=0.009). Multiparameter flow cytometry revealed that the overall number of Lin-Sca1+ckit+ (LSK) cells, which contains the HSC population, was increased two-fold in the BM of Cre+ mice compared with Cre- littermates (p=0.01). To determine whether loss of p110α affects long-term HSC self-renewal in vivo, we performed competitive repopulation assays, in which CD45.2+ BM cells from PIPC-treated Cre+ mice or Cre- controls were transplanted together with CD45.1+CD45.2+ competitor BM cells into lethally irradiated CD45.1+ recipient mice. Donor BM chimerism (%CD45.2+ cells) at 16 weeks was mildly reduced in the absence of p110α, but Cre+ cells were still capable of long-term reconstitution. In summary, we have found that the p110α catalytic isoform is specifically required for erythropoiesis, but has only a small role in HSC homeostasis and in differentiation of the other hematopoietic lineages. This suggests that pharmacologic targeting of p110α in cancer therapy may result in mild anemia, but should otherwise have minimal hematologic toxicity.


Gilliland:Merck Research Laboratories: Employment. Roberts:Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Inc.: Consultancy. Zhao:Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Inc.: Consultancy.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.