Genome-wide transcriptional characterisation and investigation of the Murine Niche for developing haematopoietic stem cells
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date31/12/2100
McGarvey, Alison Clare
Haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) are capable of differentiation into all mature haematopoietic lineages, as well as long-term self-renewal and are consequently able to sustain the adult haematopoietic system throughout life. Currently, in the mouse, HSCs are understood to first appear in the aorta-gonad-mesonephros (AGM) region at embryonic day 11 via a process of maturation from precursors (pre-HSCs). This maturation within the AGM region involves the complex interplay of signalling between cells of the niche and maturing precursor cell populations, but is relatively little understood at a molecular level. Recently our understanding of the AGM region has been refined, identifying the progression from E9.5 to E10.5 and the polarity along the dorso-ventral axis as clear demarcations of the supportive environment for HSC maturation. In this thesis, I investigated the molecular characteristics of these spatio-temporal transitions in the AGM region through the application of RNA-sequencing. This enabled the identification of molecular signatures which may underlie the supportive functionality of the niche. I further compared these expression signatures to the transcriptional profile of an independent cell type, also capable of supporting HSC maturation, the OP9 stromal cell line. By combining this transcriptional information with an ex vivo culture system, I screened a number of molecules for their ability to support HSC maturation from early precursors, leading to the discovery of a novel regulator of HSC maturation: BMPER. Further characterisation of this molecule enabled the identification of its specific cellular source and the proposal that through its action as an inhibitor of BMP signalling it facilitates the maturation of precursors into HSCs. These results lend further detail and support to the role of BMP signalling in the regulation of HSC maturation as well as demonstrating the potential of these transcriptional profiles to yield novel mechanistic insight.