RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) have emerged as important regulators of invertebrate adult stem cells, but their activities remain poorly appreciated in mammals. Using a short hairpin RNA strategy, we demonstrate here that the 2 mammalian RBPs, PUMILIO (PUM)1 and PUM2, members of the PUF family of posttranscriptional regulators, are essential for hematopoietic stem/progenitor cell (HSPC) proliferation and survival in vitro and in vivo upon reconstitution assays. Moreover, we found that PUM1/2 sustain myeloid leukemic cell growth. Through a proteomic approach, we identified the FOXP1 transcription factor as a new target of PUM1/2. Contrary to its canonical repressive activity, PUM1/2 rather promote FOXP1 expression by a direct binding to 2 canonical PUM responsive elements present in the FOXP1-3' untranslated region (UTR). Expression of FOXP1 strongly correlates with PUM1 and PUM2 levels in primary HSPCs and myeloid leukemia cells. We demonstrate that FOXP1 by itself supports HSPC and leukemic cell growth, thus mimicking PUM activities. Mechanistically, FOXP1 represses the expression of the p21-CIP1 and p27-KIP1 cell cycle inhibitors. Enforced FOXP1 expression reverses shPUM antiproliferative and proapoptotic activities. Altogether, our results reveal a novel regulatory pathway, underscoring a previously unknown and interconnected key role of PUM1/2 and FOXP1 in regulating normal HSPC and leukemic cell growth.
© 2017 by The American Society of Hematology.