Lyl-1 regulates primitive macrophages and microglia development

Commun Biol. 2021 Dec 9;4(1):1382. doi: 10.1038/s42003-021-02886-5.


During ontogeny, macrophage populations emerge in the Yolk Sac (YS) via two distinct progenitor waves, prior to hematopoietic stem cell development. Macrophage progenitors from the primitive/"early EMP" and transient-definitive/"late EMP" waves both contribute to various resident primitive macrophage populations in the developing embryonic organs. Identifying factors that modulates early stages of macrophage progenitor development may lead to a better understanding of defective function of specific resident macrophage subsets. Here we show that YS primitive macrophage progenitors express Lyl-1, a bHLH transcription factor related to SCL/Tal-1. Transcriptomic analysis of YS macrophage progenitors indicate that primitive macrophage progenitors present at embryonic day 9 are clearly distinct from those present at later stages. Disruption of Lyl-1 basic helix-loop-helix domain leads initially to an increased emergence of primitive macrophage progenitors, and later to their defective differentiation. These defects are associated with a disrupted expression of gene sets related to embryonic patterning and neurodevelopment. Lyl-1-deficiency also induce a reduced production of mature macrophages/microglia in the early brain, as well as a transient reduction of the microglia pool at midgestation and in the newborn. We thus identify Lyl-1 as a critical regulator of primitive macrophages and microglia development, which disruption may impair resident-macrophage function during organogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Female
  • Macrophages / metabolism*
  • Mice / embryology
  • Microglia / metabolism*
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics*
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism
  • Yolk Sac / metabolism*


  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • Lyl1 protein, mouse
  • Neoplasm Proteins