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Biochemistry - Oncology

Bmi1 Confers Resistance to Oxidative Stress on Hematopoietic Stem Cells
Published: Friday, May 11, 2012
Author: Shunsuke Nakamura et al.

by Shunsuke Nakamura, Motohiko Oshima, Jin Yuan, Atsunori Saraya, Satoru Miyagi, Takaaki Konuma, Satoshi Yamazaki, Mitsujiro Osawa, Hiromitsu Nakauchi, Haruhiko Koseki, Atsushi Iwama


The polycomb-group (PcG) proteins function as general regulators of stem cells. We previously reported that retrovirus-mediated overexpression of Bmi1, a gene encoding a core component of polycomb repressive complex (PRC) 1, maintained self-renewing hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) during long-term culture. However, the effects of overexpression of Bmi1 on HSCs in vivo remained to be precisely addressed.

Methodology/Principal findings

In this study, we generated a mouse line where Bmi1 can be conditionally overexpressed under the control of the endogenous Rosa26 promoter in a hematopoietic cell-specific fashion (Tie2-Cre;R26StopFLBmi1). Although overexpression of Bmi1 did not significantly affect steady state hematopoiesis, it promoted expansion of functional HSCs during ex vivo culture and efficiently protected HSCs against loss of self-renewal capacity during serial transplantation. Overexpression of Bmi1 had no effect on DNA damage response triggered by ionizing radiation. In contrast, Tie2-Cre;R26StopFLBmi1 HSCs under oxidative stress maintained a multipotent state and generally tolerated oxidative stress better than the control. Unexpectedly, overexpression of Bmi1 had no impact on the level of intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS).


Our findings demonstrate that overexpression of Bmi1 confers resistance to stresses, particularly oxidative stress, onto HSCs. This thereby enhances their regenerative capacity and suggests that Bmi1 is located downstream of ROS signaling and negatively regulated by it.