Biology

Aging alters the epigenetic asymmetry of HSC division

by M. Carolina Florian, Markus Klose, Mehmet Sacma, Jelena Jablanovic, Luke Knudson, Kalpana J. Nattamai, Gina Marka, Angelika Vollmer, Karin Soller, Vadim Sakk, Nina Cabezas-Wallscheid, Yi Zheng, Medhanie A. Mulaw, Ingmar Glauche, Hartmut Geiger

Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) balance self-renewal and differentiation to maintain homeostasis. With aging, the frequency of polar HSCs decreases. Cell polarity in HSCs is controlled by the activity of the small RhoGTPase cell division control protein 42 (Cdc42). Here we demonstrate—using a comprehensive set of paired daughter cell analyses that include single-cell 3D confocal imaging, single-cell transplants, single-cell RNA-seq, and single-cell transposase-accessible chromatin sequencing (ATAC-seq)—that the outcome of HSC divisions is strongly linked to the polarity status before mitosis, which is in turn determined by the level of the activity Cdc42 in stem cells. Aged apolar HSCs undergo preferentially self-renewing symmetric divisions, resulting in daughter stem cells with reduced regenerative capacity and lymphoid potential, while young polar HSCs undergo preferentially asymmetric divisions. Mathematical modeling in combination with experimental data implies a mechanistic role of the asymmetric sorting of Cdc42 in determining the potential of daughter cells via epigenetic mechanisms. Therefore, molecules that control HSC polarity might serve as modulators of the mode of stem cell division regulating the potential of daughter cells.

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