Blood 2015 May 8;125(21):3263-72. Epub 2015 Apr 8.
Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA; Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Philadelphia, PA; and.
Hypoxia-inducible factors (HIFs) are master regulators of the transcriptional response to low oxygen and play essential roles in embryonic development, tissue homeostasis, and disease. Recent studies have demonstrated that hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) within the bone marrow localize to a hypoxic niche and that HIF-1α promotes HSC adaptation to stress. Because the related factor HIF-2α is also expressed in HSCs, the combined role of HIF-1α and HIF-2α in HSC maintenance is unclear. To this end, we have conditionally deleted the HIF-α dimerization partner, the aryl hydrocarbon receptor nuclear translocator (ARNT) in the hematopoietic system to ablate activity of both HIF-1α and HIF-2α and assessed the functional consequence of ARNT deficiency on fetal liver and adult hematopoiesis. We determined that ARNT is essential for adult and fetal HSC viability and homeostasis. Importantly, conditional knockout of both Hif-1α and Hif-2α phenocopied key aspects of these HSC phenotypes, demonstrating that the impact of Arnt deletion is primarily HIF dependent. ARNT-deficient long-term HSCs underwent apoptosis, potentially because of reduced B-cell lymphoma 2 (BCL-2) and vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) expression. Our results suggest that HIF activity may regulate HSC homeostasis through these prosurvival factors.