HIRA, a DiGeorge Syndrome Candidate Gene, Confers Proper Chromatin Accessibility on HSCs and Supports All Stages of Hematopoiesis

Cell Rep. 2020 Feb 18;30(7):2136-2149.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2020.01.062.


HIRA is a histone chaperone that deposits the histone variant H3.3 in transcriptionally active genes. In DiGeorge syndromes, a DNA stretch encompassing HIRA is deleted. The syndromes manifest varied abnormalities, including immunodeficiency and thrombocytopenia. HIRA is essential in mice, as total knockout (KO) results in early embryonic death. However, the role of HIRA in hematopoiesis is poorly understood. We investigate hematopoietic cell-specific Hira deletion in mice and show that it dramatically reduces bone marrow hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), resulting in anemia, thrombocytopenia, and lymphocytopenia. In contrast, fetal hematopoiesis is normal in Hira-KO mice, although fetal HSCs lack the reconstitution capacity. Transcriptome analysis reveals that HIRA is required for expression of many transcription factors and signaling molecules critical for HSCs. ATAC-seq analysis demonstrates that HIRA establishes HSC-specific DNA accessibility, including the SPIB/PU.1 sites. Together, HIRA provides a chromatin environment essential for HSCs, thereby steering their development and survival.

Keywords: DiGeorge syndrome; H3.3; HIRA; hematopoietic stem cells; histone chaperone.