Erythroid Krüppel-like factor (EKLF/KLF1) was identified initially as a critical erythroid-specific transcription factor and was later found to be also expressed in other types of hematopoietic cells, including megakaryocytes and several progenitors. In this study, we have examined the regulatory effects of EKLF on hematopoiesis by comparative analysis of E14.5 fetal livers from wild-type and Eklf gene knockout (KO) mouse embryos. Depletion of EKLF expression greatly changes the populations of different types of hematopoietic cells, including, unexpectedly, the long-term hematopoietic stem cells Flk2− CD34− Lin− Sca1+ c-Kit+ (LSK)-HSC. In an interesting correlation, Eklf is expressed at a relatively high level in multipotent progenitor (MPP). Furthermore, EKLF appears to repress the expression of the colony-stimulating factor 2 receptor β subunit (CSF2RB). As a result, Flk2− CD34− LSK-HSC gains increased differentiation capability upon depletion of EKLF, as demonstrated by the methylcellulose colony formation assay and by serial transplantation experiments in vivo. Together, these data demonstrate the regulation of hematopoiesis in vertebrates by EKLF through its negative regulatory effects on the differentiation of the hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells, including Flk2− CD34− LSK-HSCs.
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