BACKGROUND: Modification of Notch receptors by O-linked fucose and its further elongation by the Fringe family of glycosyltransferase has been shown to be important for Notch signaling activation. Our recent studies disclose a myeloproliferative phenotype, hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) dysfunction, and abnormal Notch signaling in mice deficient in FX, which is required for fucosylation of a number of proteins including Notch. The purpose of this study was to assess the self-renewal and stem cell niche features of fucose-deficient HSCs.
STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: Homeostasis and maintenance of HSCs derived from FX−/− mice were studied by serial bone marrow transplantation, homing assay, and cell cycle analysis. Two-photon intravital microscopy was performed to visualize and compare the in vivo marrow niche occupancy by fucose-deficient and wild-type (WT) HSCs.
RESULTS: Marrow progenitors from FX−/− mice had mild homing defects that could be partially prevented by exogenous fucose supplementation. Fucose-deficient HSCs from FX−/− mice displayed decreased self-renewal capability compared with the WT controls. This is accompanied with their increased cell cycling activity and suppressed Notch ligand binding. When tracked in vivo by two-photon intravital imaging, the fucose-deficient HSCs were found localized farther from the endosteum of the calvarium marrow than the WT HSCs.
CONCLUSIONS: The current reported aberrant niche occupancy by HSCs from FX−/− mice, in the context of a faulty blood lineage homeostasis and HSC dysfunction in mice expressing Notch receptors deficient in O-fucosylation, suggests that fucosylation-modified Notch receptor may represent a novel extrinsic regulator for HSC engraftment and HSC niche maintenance.