Wattrus SJ, Smith ML, Rodrigues CP, Hagedorn EJ, Kim JW, Budnik B, Zon LI. 2022. Quality assurance of hematopoietic stem cells by macrophages determines stem cell clonality. Science (New York, N.Y.). 377(6613):1413-1419. Pubmed: 36137040 DOI:10.1126/science.abo4837


Tissue-specific stem cells persist for a lifetime and can differentiate to maintain homeostasis or transform to initiate cancer. Despite their importance, there are no described quality assurance mechanisms for newly formed stem cells. We observed intimate and specific interactions between macrophages and nascent blood stem cells in zebrafish embryos. Macrophage interactions frequently led to either removal of cytoplasmic material and stem cell division or complete engulfment and stem cell death. Stressed stem cells were marked by surface Calreticulin, which stimulated macrophage interactions. Using cellular barcoding, we found that Calreticulin knock-down or embryonic macrophage depletion reduced the number of stem cell clones that established adult hematopoiesis. Our work supports a model in which embryonic macrophages determine hematopoietic clonality by monitoring stem cell quality.

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Photo of Len Zon

The Zon laboratory aims to dissect how assaults to the hematopoietic system cause severe diseases such as leukemias, lymphomas, and anemias. They investigate hematopoietic development and disease using chemical screens, genetic screens, and analysis of novel transgenic lines in zebrafish.

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