How hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) produce particular lineages is insufficiently understood. We searched for key factors that direct HSC to lymphopoiesis. Comparing gene expression profiles for HSCs and early lymphoid progenitors revealed that Satb1, a global chromatin regulator, was markedly induced with lymphoid lineage specification. HSCs from Satb1-deficient mice were defective in lymphopoietic activity in culture and failed to reconstitute T lymphopoiesis in wild-type recipients. Furthermore, Satb1 transduction of HSCs and embryonic stem cells robustly promoted their differentiation toward lymphocytes. Whereas genes that encode Ikaros, E2A, and Notch1 were unaffected, many genes involved in lineage decisions were regulated by Satb1. Satb1 expression was reduced in aged HSCs with compromised lymphopoietic potential, but forced Satb1 expression partly restored that potential. Thus, Satb1 governs the initiating process central to the replenishing of lymphoid lineages. Such activity in lymphoid cell generation may be of clinical importance and useful to overcome immunosenescence.
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