Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) exhibit considerable cell-intrinsic changes with age. Here, we present an integrated analysis of transcriptome and chromatin accessibility of aged HSCs and downstream progenitors. Alterations in chromatin accessibility preferentially take place in HSCs with aging, which gradually resolve with differentiation. Differentially open accessible regions (open DARs) in aged HSCs are enriched for enhancers and show enrichment of binding motifs of the STAT, ATF, and CNC family transcription factors that are activated in response to external stresses. Genes linked to open DARs show significantly higher levels of basal expression and their expression reaches significantly higher peaks after cytokine stimulation in aged HSCs than in young HSCs, suggesting that open DARs contribute to augmented transcriptional responses under stress conditions. However, a short-term stress challenge that mimics infection is not sufficient to induce persistent chromatin accessibility changes in young HSCs. These results indicate that the ongoing and/or history of exposure to external stresses may be epigenetically inscribed in HSCs to augment their responses to external stimuli.
© 2022. The Author(s).