The status of long-term quiescence and dormancy guarantees the integrity of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) during adult homeostasis. However the molecular mechanisms regulating HSC dormancy remain poorly understood. Here we show that cylindromatosis (CYLD), a tumor suppressor gene and negative regulator of NF-κB signaling with deubiquitinase activity, is highly expressed in label-retaining dormant HSCs (dHSCs). Moreover, Cre-mediated conditional elimination of the catalytic domain of CYLD induced dHSCs to exit quiescence and abrogated their repopulation and self-renewal potential. This phenotype is dependent on the interactions between CYLD and its substrate TRAF2 (tumor necrosis factor-associated factor 2). HSCs expressing a mutant CYLD with an intact catalytic domain, but unable to bind TRAF2, showed the same HSC phenotype. Unexpectedly, the robust cycling of HSCs lacking functional CYLD-TRAF2 interactions was not elicited by increased NF-κB signaling, but instead by increased activation of the p38MAPK pathway. Pharmacological inhibition of p38MAPK rescued the phenotype of CYLD loss, identifying the CYLD-TRAF2-p38MAPK pathway as a novel important regulator of HSC function restricting HSC cycling and promoting dormancy.
© 2015 Tesio et al.