RelB and NF-kB2 are the main effectors of NF-kB non-canonical signaling and play critical roles in many physiological processes. However, their role in hematopoietic stem/progenitor cell (HSPC) maintenance has not been characterized. To investigate this, we generated RelB/NF-kB2 double-knockout (dKO) mice and found that dKO HSPCs have profoundly impaired engraftment and self-renewal activity after transplantation into wild-type recipients. Transplantation of wild-type bone marrow cells into dKO mice to assess the role of the dKO microenvironment showed that wild-type HSPCs cycled more rapidly, were more abundant, and had developmental aberrancies: increased myeloid and decreased lymphoid lineages, similar to dKO HSPCs. Notably, when these wild-type cells were returned to normal hosts, these phenotypic changes were reversed, indicating a potent but transient phenotype conferred by the dKO microenvironment. However, dKO bone marrow stromal cell numbers were reduced, and bone-lining niche cells supported less HSPC expansion than controls. Further, increased dKO HSPC proliferation was associated with impaired expression of niche adhesion molecules by bone-lining cells and increased inflammatory cytokine expression by bone marrow cells. Thus, RelB/NF-kB2 signaling positively and intrinsically regulates HSPC self-renewal and maintains stromal/osteoblastic niches and negatively and extrinsically regulates HSPC expansion and lineage commitment through the marrow microenvironment.
No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.