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Keywords:

  • Hematopoietic stem cells;
  • Embryonic stem cells;
  • In vitro differentiation;
  • LIM-homeobox transcription factor;
  • Lhx2;
  • OP9

Abstract

We previously demonstrated that hematopoietic stem cell (HSC)-like cells are robustly expanded from mouse embryonic stem cells (ESCs) by enforced expression of Lhx2, a LIM-homeobox domain (LIM-HD) transcription factor. In this study, we analyzed the functions of Lhx2 in that process using an ESC line harboring an inducible Lhx2 gene cassette. When ESCs are cultured on OP9 stromal cells, hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs) are differentiated and these HPCs are prone to undergo rapid differentiation into mature hematopoietic cells. Lhx2 inhibited differentiation of HPCs into mature hematopoietic cells and this effect would lead to accumulation of HSC-like cells. LIM-HD factors interact with LIM domain binding (Ldb) protein and this interaction abrogates binding of LIM-only (Lmo) protein to Ldb. We found that one of Lmo protein, Lmo2, was unstable due to dissociation of Lmo2 from Ldb1 in the presence of Lhx2. This effect of Lhx2 on the amount of Lmo2 contributed into accumulation of HSC-like cells, since enforced expression of Lmo2 into HSC-like cells inhibited their self-renewal. Expression of Gata3 and Tal1/Scl was increased in HSC-like cells and enforced expression of Lmo2 reduced expression of Gata3 but not Tal1/Scl. Enforced expression of Gata3 into HPCs inhibited mature hematopoietic cell differentiation, whereas Gata3-knockdown abrogated the Lhx2-mediated expansion of HPCs. We propose that multiple transcription factors/cofactors are involved in the Lhx2-mediated expansion of HSC-like cells from ESCs. Lhx2 appears to fine-tune the balance between self-renewal and differentiation of HSC-like cells. Stem Cells 2013;31:2680–2689