The Mds1 and Evi1 complex locus (Mecom) gives rise to several alternative transcripts implicated in leukemogenesis. However, the contribution that Mecom-derived gene products make to normal hematopoiesis remains largely unexplored. To investigate the role of the upstream transcription start site of Mecom in adult hematopoiesis, we created a mouse model with a lacZ knock-in at this site, termed ME(m1), which eliminates Mds1-Evi1 (ME), the longer, PR-domain-containing isoform produced by the gene (also known as PRDM3). β-galactosidase-marking studies revealed that, within hematopoietic cells, ME is exclusively expressed in the stem cell compartment. ME deficiency leads to a reduction in the number of HSCs and a complete loss of long-term repopulation capacity, whereas the stem cell compartment is shifted from quiescence to active cycling. Genetic exploration of the relative roles of endogenous ME and EVI1 isoforms revealed that ME preferentially rescues long-term HSC defects. RNA-seq analysis in Lin(-)Sca-1(+)c-Kit(+) cells (LSKs) of ME(m1) documents near complete silencing of Cdkn1c, encoding negative cell-cycle regulator p57-Kip2. Reintroduction of ME into ME(m1) LSKs leads to normalization of both p57-Kip2 expression and growth control. Our results clearly demonstrate a critical role of PR-domain-containing ME in linking p57-kip2 regulation to long-term HSC function.
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