Human bone marrow stromal cells (BMSC) are key elements of the hematopoietic environment and they play a central role in bone and bone marrow physiology. However, how key stromal cell functions are regulated is largely unknown. We analyzed the role of the immediate early response transcription factor EGR1 as key stromal cell regulator and found that EGR1 was highly expressed in prospectivelyisolated primary BMSC, down-regulated upon culture, and low in noncolony-forming CD45neg stromal cells. Furthermore, EGR1 expression was lower in proliferative regenerating adult and fetal primary cells compared to adult steady-state BMSC. Overexpression of EGR1 in stromal cells induced potent hematopoietic stroma support as indicated by an increased production of transplantable CD34+ CD90+ hematopoietic stem cells in expansion co-cultures. The improvement in bone marrow stroma support function was mediated by increased expression of hematopoietic supporting genes, such as VCAM1 and CCL28. Furthermore, EGR1 overexpression markedly decreased stromal cell proliferation whereas EGR1 knockdown caused the opposite effects. These findings thus show that EGR1 is a key stromal transcription factor with a dual role in regulating proliferation and hematopoietic stroma support function that is controlling a genetic program to co-ordinate the specific functions of BMSC in their different biological contexts.,
Department of Hematology

Li, H.Z., Lim, H.C., Zacharaki, D., Xian, X.J., Kenswil, K.J.G., Braunig, S., … Scheding, S. (2020). Early growth response 1 regulates hematopoietic support and proliferation in human primary bone marrow stromal cells. Haematologica, 105(5), 1206–1215. doi:10.3324/haematol.2019.216648