Stem cell self-renewal is critical for tissue homeostasis, and its dysregulation can lead to organ failure or tumorigenesis. While obesity can induce varied abnormalities in bone marrow components, it is unclear how diet might affect hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) self-renewal. Here, we show that Spred1, a negative regulator of RAS-MAPK signaling, safeguards HSC homeostasis in animals fed a high-fat diet (HFD). Under steady-state conditions, Spred1 negatively regulates HSC self-renewal and fitness, in part through Rho kinase activity. Spred1 deficiency mitigates HSC failure induced by infection mimetics and prolongs HSC lifespan, but it does not initiate leukemogenesis due to compensatory upregulation of Spred2. In contrast, HFD induces ERK hyperactivation and aberrant self-renewal in Spred1-deficient HSCs, resulting in functional HSC failure, severe anemia, and myeloproliferative neoplasm-like disease. HFD-induced hematopoietic abnormalities are mediated partly through alterations to the gut microbiota. Together, these findings reveal that diet-induced stress disrupts fine-tuning of Spred1-mediated signals to govern HSC homeostasis.
Most animals display retarded growth in adverse conditions; however, upon the removal of unfavorable factors, they often show quick growth restoration, which is known as "catch-up" growth. In zebrafish embryos, hypoxia causes growth arrest, but subsequent reoxygenation induces catch-up growth. Here, we report the role of insulin receptor substrate (Irs)1-mediated insulin/insulinlike growth factor signaling (IIS) and the involvement of stem cells in catch-up growth in reoxygenated zebrafish embryos. Disturbed irs1 expression attenuated IIS, resulting in greater inhibition in catch-up growth than in normal growth and forced IIS activation‒restored catch-up growth. The irs1 knockdown induced noticeable cell death in neural crest cells (NCCs; multipotent stem cells) under hypoxia, and the pharmacological/genetic ablation of NCCs hindered catch-up growth. Furthermore, inhibition of the apoptotic pathway by pan-caspase inhibition or forced activation of Akt signaling in irs1 knocked-down embryos blocked NCC cell death and rescued catch-up growth. Our data indicate that this multipotent stem cell is indispensable for embryonic catch-up growth and that Irs1-mediated IIS is a prerequisite for its survival under severe adverse environments such as prolonged hypoxia.