We previously demonstrated that the NF-B non-canonical signaling way positively and intrinsically regulates hematopoietic stem/progenitor cell (HSPC) self-renewal and maintains stromal/osteoblastic niches (Stem Cells 2012 30:709-18). These results lead us to think that persistent activation of NF-B non-canonical signaling would have favorable effects on the HSPC pool size and self-renewal capacity. NF-B-inducing kinase (NIK) plays a critical role in non-canonical NF-B signaling by directly phosphorylating IKK. It is constitutively degraded by TRAF3 in unstimulated cells to prevent unwanted NF-B activation. To investigate the enhanced NF-kB non-canonical signaling specifically in hematopoietic cells, we crossed Vav-Cre mice with a mouse strain in which a mutated form of NIK lacking the TRAF3-binding domain is expressed under the control of the ROSA26 promoter after Cre-mediated deletion of the LoxP-flanked STOP cassette (NIKΔT3Cre mice). In contrast to what we expected in these preliminary studies, the NIKΔT3Cre mice rapidly developed anemia, pancytopenia, with a reduced HSPC pool and marrow cellularity and postnatal lethality, mimicking many of the findings in humans with bone marrow failure syndrome, and different from recently published mice with deficiency in A20, which also activates NF-B signaling. Furthermore, the NIK activated HSPCs have profoundly impaired engraftment and self-renewal activity after transplantation into wild-type recipients. Further analysis showed that the mutant cells are proliferate faster and predispose to apoptosis than wild type cells. These observations suggest that finely controlled NF-B activity is crucial for HSC maintenance. Currently, we are focusing on the analysis of the underlying molecular mechanisms.


No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.