Objective: The highly related protein-tyrosine kinases Fps (also called Fes) and Fer are sole members of a subfamily of kinases. In this study, knock-in mice harboring kinase-inactivating mutations in both fps and fer alleles were used to assess functional redundancy between Fps and Fer kinases in regulating hematopoiesis.
Methods: Mice harboring kinase-inactivating mutations in fps and fer alleles were generated previously. Compound homozygous mice were bred that lack both Fps and Fer kinase activities and progeny were analyzed for potential defects in viability and fertility. Potential differences in hematopoiesis were analyzed by lineage analysis of bone marrow cells, peripheral blood counts, and hematopoietic progenitor cell colony-forming assays.
Results: Mice devoid of both Fps and Fer kinase activities were viable and displayed reduced fertility. Circulating levels of neutrophils, erythrocytes, and platelets were elevated in compound mutant mice compared to wild-type controls, suggesting that hematopoiesis is deregulated in the absence of Fps and Fer kinases. Compound mutant mice also showed reduced overall bone marrow cellularity, and lineage analysis revealed elevated CD11b(hi)Ly-6G(lo) myeloid cells, which may reflect increased granulocyte progenitors. Although no differences in the overall number of granulocyte/monocyte colony-forming progenitors were observed, qualitative differences in myeloid colonies from compound mutant mice suggested a role for Fps and Fer kinases in regulating cell-cell adhesion or a skewing in cellularity of colonies.
Conclusions: Mice lacking both Fps and Fer kinase activities develop normally, show reduced fertility, and display defects in hematopoiesis, thus providing evidence for functional redundancy between Fps and Fer kinases in regulating hematopoiesis.