Erythropoietin (EPO) and its cell surface receptor (EPOR) play a central role in proliferation, differentiation, and survival of erythroid progenitors. Signals induced by EPO have been studied extensively by using erythroid as well as nonerythroid cell lines, and various controversial results have been reported as to the role of signaling molecules in erythroid differentiation. Here we describe a novel approach to analyze the EPO signaling by using primary mouse fetal liver hematopoietic cells to avoid possible artifacts due to established cell lines. Our strategy is based on high-titer retrovirus vectors with a bicistronic expression system consisting of an internal ribosome entry site (IRES) and green fluorescent protein (GFP). By placing the cDNA for a signaling molecule in front of IRES-GFP, virus-infected cells can be viably sorted by fluorescence-activated cell sorter, and the effect of expression of the signaling molecule can be assessed. By using this system, expression of cell-survival genes such as Bcl-2 and Bcl-XL was found to enhance erythroid colony formation from colony- forming unit-erythroid (CFU-E) in response to EPO. However, their expression was not sufficient for erythroid colony formation from CFU-E alone, indicating that EPO induces signals for erythroid differentiation. To examine the role of EPOR tyrosine residues in erythroid differentiation, we introduced a chimeric EGFR-EPOR receptor, which has the extracellular domain of the EGF receptor and the intracellular domain of the EPOR, as well as a mutant EGFR-EPOR in which all the cytoplasmic tyrosine residues are replaced with phenylalanine, and found that tyrosine residues of EPOR are essential for erythroid colony formation from CFU-E. We further analyzed the function of the downstream signaling molecules by expressing modified signaling molecules and found that both JAK2/STAT5 and Ras, two major signaling pathways activated by EPOR, are involved in full erythroid differentiation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology