Dynamics of Chromatin Accessibility During Hematopoietic Stem Cell Differentiation Into Progressively Lineage-Committed Progeny

Stem Cells. 2023 May 15;41(5):520-539. doi: 10.1093/stmcls/sxad022.


Epigenetic mechanisms regulate the multilineage differentiation capacity of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) into a variety of blood and immune cells. Mapping the chromatin dynamics of functionally defined cell populations will shed mechanistic insight into 2 major, unanswered questions in stem cell biology: how does epigenetic identity contribute to a cell type's lineage potential, and how do cascades of chromatin remodeling dictate ensuing fate decisions? Our recent work revealed evidence of multilineage gene priming in HSCs, where open cis-regulatory elements (CREs) exclusively shared between HSCs and unipotent lineage cells were enriched for DNA binding motifs of known lineage-specific transcription factors. Oligopotent progenitor populations operating between the HSCs and unipotent cells play essential roles in effecting hematopoietic homeostasis. To test the hypothesis that selective HSC-primed lineage-specific CREs remain accessible throughout differentiation, we used ATAC-seq to map the temporal dynamics of chromatin remodeling during progenitor differentiation. We observed epigenetic-driven clustering of oligopotent and unipotent progenitors into distinct erythromyeloid and lymphoid branches, with multipotent HSCs and MPPs associating with the erythromyeloid lineage. We mapped the dynamics of lineage-primed CREs throughout hematopoiesis and identified both unique and shared CREs as potential lineage reinforcement mechanisms at fate branch points. Additionally, quantification of genome-wide peak count and size revealed overall greater chromatin accessibility in HSCs, allowing us to identify HSC-unique peaks as putative regulators of self-renewal and multilineage potential. Finally, CRISPRi-mediated targeting of ATACseq-identified putative CREs in HSCs allowed us to demonstrate the functional role of selective CREs in lineage-specific gene expression. These findings provide insight into the regulation of stem cell multipotency and lineage commitment throughout hematopoiesis and serve as a resource to test functional drivers of hematopoietic lineage fate.

Keywords: cell fate decisions; chromatin accessibility; epigenetics; hematopoiesis; hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Cell Lineage / genetics
  • Chromatin* / genetics
  • Chromatin* / metabolism
  • Hematopoiesis* / genetics
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / metabolism


  • Chromatin