Fanconi anemia (FA) is a disorder of DNA repair that manifests as bone marrow (BM) failure. The lack of accurate murine models of FA has refocused efforts toward differentiation of patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (IPSCs) to hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs). However, an intact FA DNA repair pathway is required for efficient IPSC derivation, hindering these efforts. To overcome this barrier, we used inducible complementation of FANCA-deficient IPSCs, which permitted robust maintenance of IPSCs. Modulation of FANCA during directed differentiation to HPCs enabled the production of FANCA-deficient human HPCs that recapitulated FA genotoxicity and hematopoietic phenotypes relative to isogenic FANCA-expressing HPCs. FANCA-deficient human HPCs underwent accelerated terminal differentiation driven by activation of p53/p21. We identified growth arrest specific 6 (GAS6) as a novel target of activated p53 in FANCA-deficient HPCs and modulate GAS6 signaling to rescue hematopoiesis in FANCA-deficient cells. This study validates our strategy to derive a sustainable, highly faithful human model of FA, uncovers a mechanism of HPC exhaustion in FA, and advances toward future cell therapy in FA.
© 2020 by The American Society of Hematology.