Loss of Asxl1 alters self-renewal and cell fate of bone marrow stromal cell, leading to bohring-opitz-like syndrome in mice
Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute
De novo ASXL1 mutations are found in patients with Bohring-Opitz syndrome, a disease with severe developmental defects and early childhood mortality. The underlying pathologic mechanisms remain largely unknown. Using Asxl1-targeted murine models, we found that Asxl1 global loss as well as conditional deletion in osteoblasts and their progenitors led to significant bone loss and a markedly decreased number of bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs) compared with wild-type littermates. Asxl1(-/-) BMSCs displayed impaired self-renewal and skewed differentiation, away from osteoblasts and favoring adipocytes. RNA-sequencing analysis revealed altered expression of genes involved in cell proliferation, skeletal development, and morphogenesis. Furthermore, gene set enrichment analysis showed decreased expression of stem cell self-renewal gene signature, suggesting a role of Asxl1 in regulating the stemness of BMSCs. Importantly, re-introduction of Asxl1 normalized NANOG and OCT4 expression and restored the self-renewal capacity of Asxl1(-/-) BMSCs. Our study unveils a pivotal role of ASXL1 in the maintenance of BMSC functions and skeletal development.