Dynamic expression of the Robo ligand Slit2 in bone marrow cell populations

Institute for the Biology of Stem Cells, Department of Biomolecular Engineering, University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA, USA.
Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.) (Impact Factor: 5.01). 02/2012; 11(4):675-82. DOI: 10.4161/cc.11.4.19146
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The bone marrow (BM) niche is essential for lifelong hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) maintenance, proliferation and differentiation. Several BM cell types, including osteoblast lineage cells (OBC), mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) and endothelial cells (EC) have been implicated in supporting HSC location and function, but the relative importance of these cell types and their secreted ligands remain controversial. We recently found that the cell surface receptors Robo4 and CXCR4 cooperate to localize HSC to BM niches. We hypothesized that Slit2, a putative ligand for Robo4, cooperates with the CXCR4 ligand SDF1 to direct HSC to specific BM niche sites. Here, we have isolated OBC, MSC and EC by flow cytometry and determined their frequency within the bone marrow and the relative mRNA levels of Slit2, SDF1 and Robo4. We found that expression of Slit2 and SDF1 were dynamically regulated in MSC and OBC-like populations following radiation, while Robo4 expression was restricted to EC. Radiation also significantly affected the cellularity and frequency of both the non-adherent and adherent cells within the BM stroma. These data support a physiological role for Slit2 in regulating the dynamic function of Robo-expressing cells within BM niches at steady state and following radiation.

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    ABSTRACT: Stem cells in tissues reside in and receive signals from local microenvironments called niches. Understanding how multiple signals within niches integrate to control stem cell function is challenging. The Drosophila testis stem cell niche consists of somatic hub cells that maintain both germline stem cells and somatic cyst stem cells (CySCs). Here, we show a role for the axon guidance pathway Slit-Roundabout (Robo) in the testis niche. The ligand Slit is expressed specifically in hub cells while its receptor, Roundabout 2 (Robo2), is required in CySCs in order for them to compete for occupancy in the niche. CySCs also require the Slit-Robo effector Abelson tyrosine kinase (Abl) to prevent over-adhesion of CySCs to the niche, and CySCs mutant for Abl outcompete wild type CySCs for niche occupancy. Both Robo2 and Abl phenotypes can be rescued through modulation of adherens junction components, suggesting that the two work together to balance CySC adhesion levels. Interestingly, expression of Robo2 requires JAK-STAT signaling, an important maintenance pathway for both germline and cyst stem cells in the testis. Our work indicates that Slit-Robo signaling affects stem cell function downstream of the JAK-STAT pathway by controlling the ability of stem cells to compete for occupancy in their niche.
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    ABSTRACT: Despite the use of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) in clinical therapy for over half a century, the mechanisms that regulate HSC trafficking, engraftment, and life-long persistence after transplantation are unclear. Here, we show that the vascular endothelium regulates HSC trafficking into and out of bone marrow (BM) niches. Surprisingly, we found that instead of acting as barriers to cellular entry, vascular endothelial cells, via the guidance molecule ROBO4, actively promote HSC translocation across vessel walls into the BM space. In contrast, we found that the vasculature inhibits the reverse process, as induced vascular permeability led to a rapid increase in HSCs in the blood stream. Thus, the vascular endothelium reinforces HSC localization to BM niches both by promoting HSC extravasation from blood-to-BM and by forming vascular barriers that prevent BM-to-blood escape. Our results uncouple the mechanisms that regulate the directionality of HSC trafficking and show that the vasculature can be targeted to improve hematopoietic transplantation therapies. Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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