DNA-damage response in hematopoietic stem cells: An evolutionary trade-off between blood regeneration and leukemia suppression

Shahar Biechonski, Muhammad Yassin, Michael Milyavsky

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Self-renewing and multipotent hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) maintain lifelong hematopoiesis. Their enormous regenerative potential coupled with lifetime persistence in the body, in contrast with the Progenitors, demand tight control of HSCs genome stability. Indeed, failure to accurately repair DNA damage in HSCs is associated with bone marrow failure and accelerated leukemogenesis. Recent observations exposed remarkable differences in several DNA-damage response (DDR) aspects between HSCs and Progenitors, especially in their DNA-repair capacities and susceptibility to apoptosis. Human HSCs in comparison with Progenitors exhibit delayed DNA double-strand break rejoining, persistent DDR signaling activation, higher sensitivity to the cytotoxic effects of ionizing radiation and attenuated expression of DNA-repair genes. Importantly, the distinct DDR of HSCs was also documented in mouse models. Nevertheless, physiological significance and the molecular basis of the HSCs-specific DDR features are only partially understood. Taking radiation-induced DDR as a paradigm, this review will focus on the current advances in understanding the role of cell-intrinsic DDR regulators and the cellular microenvironment in balancing stemness with genome stability. Pre-leukemia HSCs and clonal hematopoiesis evolvement will be discussed as an evolutionary compromise between the need for lifelong blood regeneration and DDR. Uniquely for this review, we outline the differences in HSCs-related DDR as highlighted by various experimental systems and attempt to provide their critical analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-377
Number of pages11
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2017


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