How stem cells interact with the microenvironment to regulate their cell fates and metabolism is largely unknown. Here we show that, in a hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) -specific inducible knockout model, the cytoskeleton-modulating protein profilin 1 (pfn1) is essential for the maintenance of multiple cell fates and metabolism of HSCs. The deletion of pfn1 in HSCs led to bone marrow failure, loss of quiescence, increased apoptosis, and mobilization of HSCs in vivo. In reconstitution analyses, pfn1-deficient cells were selectively lost from mixed bone marrow chimeras. By contrast, pfn1 deletion did not significantly affect differentiation or homing of HSCs. When compared to wild-type cells, levels of expression of Hif-1a, EGR1, and MLL were lower and an earlier switch from glycolysis to mitochondrial respiration with increased ROS level was observed in pfn1-deficient HSCs. This switch preceded the detectable alteration of other cell fates. Importantly, treatment of pfn1-deficient mice with the antioxidant N-acetyl-l-cysteine reversed the ROS level and loss of quiescence of HSCs, suggesting that pfn1 maintained metabolism is required for the quiescence of HSCs. Furthermore, we demonstrated that expression of wild-type pfn1 but not the actin-binding deficient or poly-proline binding-deficient mutants of pfn1 rescued the defective phenotype of pfn1-deficient HSCs. This result indicates that actin-binding and proline-binding activities of pfn1 are required for its function in HSCs. Thus, pfn1 plays an essential role in regulating the retention and metabolism of HSCs in the bone marrow microenvironment.
No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.