Tissue homeostasis over the life of an organism relies on both self-renewal and multipotent differentiation of stem cells. Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are sustained in a specific microenvironment known as the stem cell niche. Adult HSCs are kept quiescent during the cell cycle in the endosteal niche of the bone marrow. Normal HSCs maintain intracellular hypoxia, stabilize the hypoxia-inducible factor-1a (HIF-1a) protein, and generate ATP by anaerobic metabolism. In HIF-1a deficiency, HSCs became metabolically aerobic, lost cell cycle quiescence, and finally became exhausted. An increased dose of HIF-1a protein in VHL-mutated HSCs and their progenitors induced cell cycle quiescence and accumulation of HSCs in the bone marrow (BM), which were not transplantable. This metabolic balance promotes HSC maintenance by limiting the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), but leaves HSCs susceptible to changes in redox status (1). We have performed the metabolomic analysis in HSCs. Upregulation of pyruvate dehydrogenase kinases enhanced the glycolytic pathway, cell cycle quiescence, and stem cell capacity. Thus, HSCs directly utilize the hypoxic microenvironment to maintain their slow cell cycle by HIF-1a-dependent metabolism. Downregulation of mitochondrial metabolism might be reasonable, since it reduces ROS generation. On the other hand, at the time of BM transplantation, HSCs activate oxidative phosphorylation to acquire more ATP for proliferation. Autophagy also energizes HSCs by providing amino acids during transplantation. ATG (autophagy-related) 7 is essential for transplantation and metabolic homeostasis. The relationship between mitochondrial heat shock protein, mortalin, and metabolism in HSCs will also be discussed.
No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.