Increased expression of interferon signaling genes in the bone marrow microenvironment of myelodysplastic syndromes

PLoS One. 2015 Mar 24;10(3):e0120602. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0120602. eCollection 2015.


Introduction: The bone marrow (BM) microenvironment plays an important role in the pathogenesis of myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) through a reciprocal interaction with resident BM hematopoietic cells. We investigated the differences between BM mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) in MDS and normal individuals and identified genes involved in such differences.

Materials and methods: BM-derived MSCs from 7 MDS patients (3 RCMD, 3 RAEB-1, and 1 RAEB-2) and 7 controls were cultured. Global gene expression was analyzed using a microarray.

Result: We found 314 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) in RCMD vs. control, 68 in RAEB vs. control, and 51 in RAEB vs. RCMD. All comparisons were clearly separated from one another by hierarchical clustering. The overall similarity between differential expression signatures from the RCMD vs. control comparison and the RAEB vs. control comparison was highly significant (p = 0), which indicates a common transcriptomic response in these two MDS subtypes. RCMD and RAEB simultaneously showed an up-regulation of interferon alpha/beta signaling and the ISG15 antiviral mechanism, and a significant fraction of the RAEB vs. control DEGs were also putative targets of transcription factors IRF and ICSBP. Pathways that involved RNA polymerases I and III and mitochondrial transcription were down-regulated in RAEB compared to RCMD.

Conclusion: Gene expression in the MDS BM microenvironment was different from that in normal BM and exhibited altered expression according to disease progression. The present study provides genetic evidence that inflammation and immune dysregulation responses that involve the interferon signaling pathway in the BM microenvironment are associated with MDS pathogenesis, which suggests BM MSCs as a possible therapeutic target in MDS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bone Marrow Cells / immunology
  • Bone Marrow Cells / pathology*
  • Cellular Microenvironment / genetics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Interferons / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / immunology
  • Mesenchymal Stem Cells / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes / genetics*
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes / immunology
  • Myelodysplastic Syndromes / pathology*
  • Signal Transduction / genetics*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Transcriptome*


  • Transcription Factors
  • Interferons

Grant support

This study was supported by (1) a grant from the Korean Health Technology R&D Project, Ministry of Health & Welfare, Republic of Korea (HI12C0169), (2) Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT and future Planning (NRF-2014R1A2A1A10052286), and (3) Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education (NRF-2014R1A1A2A16049597), (4) grant no. 04-2012-0430 from the SNUH Research Fund. SH and KP were supported by KRIBB Research Initiative Program. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.