Horman SR, Velu CS, Chaubey A, Bourdeau T, Zhu J, Paul WE, Gebelein B, Grimes HL
In patients with severe congenital neutropenia (SCN) and mice with growth factor independent-1 (Gfi1) loss of function, arrested myeloid progenitors accumulate, whereas terminal granulopoiesis is blocked. One might assume that Gfi-null progenitors accumulate because they lack the ability to differentiate. Instead, our data indicate that Gfi1 loss of function deregulates 2 separable transcriptional programs, one of which controls the accumulation and lineage specification of myeloid progenitors, but not terminal granulopoiesis. We demonstrate that Gfi1 directly represses HoxA9, Pbx1, and Meis1 during normal myelopoiesis. Gfi1-/- progenitors exhibit elevated levels of HoxA9, Pbx1 and Meis1, exaggerated HoxA9-Pbx1-Meis1 activity, and progenitor transformation in collaboration with oncogenic K-Ras. Limiting HoxA9 alleles corrects, in a dose-dependent manner, in vivo and in vitro phenotypes observed with loss of Gfi1 in myeloid progenitor cells but did not rescue Gfi1-/- blocked granulopoiesis. Thus, Gfi1 integrates 2 events during normal myeloid differentiation; the suppression of a HoxA9-Pbx1-Meis1 progenitor program and the induction of a granulopoietic transcription program.