Epigenetic Control of Apolipoprotein E Expression Mediates Gender-Specific Hematopoietic Regulation

Stem Cells. 2015 Dec;33(12):3643-54. doi: 10.1002/stem.2214. Epub 2015 Oct 10.


Epigenetic alterations play a central role in the control of normal and malignant blood cell development. We demonstrate here that expression of a truncated DNA methyltransferase 3B isoform DNMT3B7, which has been shown to alter cellular epigenetic patterns, decreases the overall number of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs), and markedly diminishes blood cell reconstitution within the female hormonal microenvironment. Gene expression profiling of HSPCs isolated from DNMT3B7 transgenic embryos identified Apolipoprotein E (Apoe) as overexpressed. The CpG island controlling Apoe expression had lower levels of modified cytosines in DNMT3B7 transgenic HSPCs, corresponding with the observed increase in gene expression. Furthermore, we observed that spleens and bone marrows of female mice transplanted with DNMT3B7 transgenic HSPCs express very high levels of Apoe. Finally, the introduction of Apoe-overexpressing HSPCs into male recipients decreased bone marrow engraftment, recapitulating our original observations in female recipients. Our work reveals a dynamic interplay between the intrinsic epigenetic changes in HSPCs and extrinsic endocrine factors acting on these cells to regulate the efficiency of HSPC engraftment and reconstitution. We have identified a novel mechanism by which gender-specific hormones modulate HSPC function, which could serve as a target for augmenting hematopoiesis in cases with limited HSC functionality.

Keywords: Apolipoprotein E; DNA methyltransferase 3B; Epigenetics; Gender-specific hormones; Hematopoiesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apolipoproteins E / biosynthesis*
  • Apolipoproteins E / genetics
  • CpG Islands / physiology*
  • DNA (Cytosine-5-)-Methyltransferases / genetics
  • DNA (Cytosine-5-)-Methyltransferases / metabolism
  • Epigenesis, Genetic / physiology*
  • Female
  • Hematopoiesis / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Sex Characteristics*


  • Apolipoproteins E
  • DNA (Cytosine-5-)-Methyltransferases