DNA damage primes hematopoietic stem cells for direct megakaryopoiesis

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Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) reside in the bone marrow (BM), can self-renew, and generate all cells of the hematopoietic system. 1 Most hematopoietic lineages arise through successive, increasingly lineage-committed progenitors. In contrast, megakaryocytes (MKs), hyperploid cells that generate platelets essential to hemostasis, can derive rapidly and directly from HSCs. 2 The underlying mechanism is unknown however. Here we show that DNA damage and subsequent arrest in the G2 phase of the cell cycle rapidly induce MK commitment specifically in HSCs, but not in progenitors, through an initially predominantly post-transcriptional mechanism. Cycling HSCs show extensive replication-induced DNA damage associated with uracil misincorporation in vivo and in vitro . Consistent with this notion, thymidine attenuated DNA damage, rescued HSC maintenance and reduced the generation of CD41 + MK-committed HSCs in vitro . Similarly, overexpression of the dUTP-scavenging enzyme, dUTPase, enhanced in vitro maintenance of HSCs. We conclude that a DNA damage response drives direct megakaryopoiesis and that replication stress-induced direct megakaryopoiesis, at least in part caused by uracil misincorporation, is a barrier to HSC maintenance in vitro . DNA damage-induced direct megakaryopoiesis may allow rapid generation of a lineage essential to immediate organismal survival, while simultaneously removing damaged HSCs and potentially avoiding malignant transformation of self-renewing stem cells.

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