SCL/TAL1 expression level regulates human hematopoietic stem cell self-renewal and engraftment
The fate of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) is regulated through a combinatorial action of proteins that determine their self-renewal and/or their commitment to differentiation. Stem cell leukemia/T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia 1 (SCL/TAL1), a basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factor, plays key roles in controlling the development of primitive and definitive hematopoiesis during mouse development but its function in adult HSCs is still a matter of debate. We report here that the lentiviral-mediated enforced expression of TAL1 in human CD34+ cells marginally affects in vitro the differentiation of committed progenitors, whereas in vivo the repopulation capacity of the long-term SCID (severe combined immunodeficient) mouse-repopulating cells (LT-SRCs) is enhanced. As a consequence, the production of SRC-derived multipotent progenitors as well as erythroid- and myeloid-differentiated cells is increased. Looking at the lymphoid compartment, constitutive TAL1-enforced expression impairs B- but not T-cell differentiation. Expression of a mutant TAL1 protein that cannot bind DNA specifically impairs human LT-SRC amplification, indicating a DNA-binding dependent effect of TAL1 on primitive cell populations. These results indicate that TAL1 expression level regulates immature human hematopoietic cell self-renewal and that this regulation requires TAL1 DNA-binding activity.