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.
Regulatory T (Treg) cells expressing the transcription factor Foxp3 are critical for the prevention of autoimmunity and the suppression of anti-tumor immunity. The major self-antigens recognized by Treg cells remain undefined, representing a substantial barrier to the understanding of immune regulation. Here, we have identified natural Treg cell ligands in mice. We found that two recurrent Treg cell clones, one prevalent in prostate tumors and the other associated with prostatic autoimmune lesions, recognized distinct non-overlapping MHC-class-II-restricted peptides derived from the same prostate-specific protein. Notably, this protein is frequently targeted by autoantibodies in experimental models of prostatic autoimmunity. On the basis of these findings, we propose a model in which Treg cell responses at peripheral sites converge on those self-proteins that are most susceptible to autoimmune attack, and we suggest that this link could be exploited as a generalizable strategy for identifying the Treg cell antigens relevant to human autoimmunity.