Background. We recently identified phospholipase C-β2 (PLC-β2) as the first lipolytic enzyme known to be involved in the mobilization of hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells (HSPCs) from bone marrow (BM) into peripheral blood (PB) (Leukemia 2016, 4:919-28). The phospholipase C (PLC) family of enzymes consists of 13 members in six subfamilies, including the PLC-δ (1, 3, 4), -β (1-4), -γ (1, 2), -ε, -ζ, and -η isoforms. PLC enzymes are associated with cell surface receptors that convert phosphatidyloinositol-4,5-biphosphate into two important second messengers, diacylglycerol (DAG) and inositol-1,4.5-triphosphate (IP3). Among these isoforms, PLC-β2 is somewhat unique in being a hematopoietic-specific enzyme. Moreover, PLC-β2, when released extracellularly from granulocytes and HSPCs upon stimulation, cleaves glycolipid glycosylphosphatidylinositol anchor (GPI-A) in cell membranes and thus disrupts the structure of membrane lipid rafts, which are important in the retention of HSPCs in BM niches. It is well known that the major BM-retention receptors for HSPCs, CXCR4 and VLA-4, are membrane lipid raft-associated receptors. What is important for the current study, while performing mobilization studies, we previously found that BM cells from these animals show somewhat reduced chemotaxis in response to several chemoattractants involved in BM homing.

Aim of the Study. Based on this latter observation, we became interested in the potential role of PLC-β2 in regulating the migration of HSPCs, as this enzyme could be potentially involved in BM homing and engraftment of HSPCs after transplantation. We also explored the potential relationship between PLC-β2 and heme oxygenase 1 (HO-1), which is, as we recently demonstrated, a negative regulator of HSPC trafficking (Cell Transplant. 2016 epub).

Materials and Methods. We performed i) homing, ii) short-term engraftment, and iii) long-term competitive engraftment studies in WT mice transplanted with BM cells derived from PLC-β2-/- mice and control (WT) animals. Chemotaxis and adhesion of PLC-β2-/- HSPCs was evaluated in Transwell dishes in response to SDF-1, S1P, C1P, and ATP. The expression of HO-1 was evaluated by real-time PCR and western blotting. Finally, both HSPCs and Gr-1+ cells were evaluated for release of Ca2+ upon stimulation by homing factors.

Results. We report here for first time that, besides its role in the release of HSPCs from BM niches, PLC-β2 also regulates the migration of HSPCs in response to chemotactic gradients of BM homing factors, including stromal derived factor-1 (SDF-1), sphingosine-1 phosphate (S1P), ceramide-1 phosphate C1P, and adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Specifically, HSPCs from PLC-β2-KO mice show impaired homing and engraftment in vivo after transplantation into lethally irradiated mice. This decrease in migration of HSPCs can be explained by impaired calcium release and calcium signaling in cells from PLC-β2-KO mice and a high baseline level of HO-1, an enzyme that negatively regulates cell migration, in PLC-β2-KO mouse cells. Downregulation of HO-1 activity in HSPCs improved homing of PLC-β2-/- BM cells.

Conclusions. PLC-β2 plays an important role in homing and engraftment of HSPCs. The decrease in migration of HSPCs in PLC-β2-KO mice can be explained by impaired calcium release and a high baseline level of HO-1, an enzyme that negatively regulates cell migration and our data provides evidence that downregulation of HO-1 activity in HSPCs by small molecular inhibitors could become a new strategy to improve homing and engraftment after transplantation.


No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.