Although several reports have characterized the hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) transcriptome, the roles of HSC-specific genes in hematopoiesis remain elusive. To identify candidate regulators of HSC fate decisions, we compared the transcriptome of human umbilical cord blood and bone marrow CD34 +CD33-CD38-Rholoc-kit+ cells, enriched for hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells with CD34 +CD33-CD38-Rhohi cells, enriched in committed progenitors. We identified 277 differentially expressed transcripts conserved in these ontogenically distinct cell sources. We next performed a morpholino antisense oligonucleotide (MO)-based functional screen in zebrafish to determine the hematopoietic function of 61 genes that had no previously known function in HSC biology and for which a likely zebrafish ortholog could be identified. MO knock down of 14/61 (23%) of the differentially expressed transcripts resulted in hematopoietic defects in developing zebrafish embryos, as demonstrated by altered levels of circulating blood cells at 30 and 48 h postfertilization and subsequently confirmed by quantitative RT-PCR for erythroid-specific hbae1 and myeloid-specific lcp1 transcripts. Recapitulating the knockdown phenotype using a second MO of independent sequence, absence of the phenotype using a mismatched MO sequence, and rescue of the phenotype by cDNA-based overexpression of the targeted transcript for zebrafish spry4 confirmed the specificity of MO targeting in this system. Further characterization of the spry4-deficient zebrafish embryos demonstrated that hematopoietic defects were not due to more widespread defects in the mesodermal development, and therefore represented primary defects in HSC specification, proliferation, and/or differentiation. Overall, this high-throughput screen for the functional validation of differentially expressed genes using a zebrafish model of hematopoiesis represents a major step toward obtaining meaningful information from global gene profiling of HSCs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)