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Cell Stem Cell. 2008 Jun 5;2(6):584-94. doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2008.03.012.

Hematopoietic stem cell responsiveness to exogenous signals is limited by caspase-3.

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Center for Regenerative Medicine, Cancer Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02114, USA.


Limited responsiveness to inflammatory cytokines is a feature of adult hematopoietic stem cells and contributes to the relative quiescence and durability of the stem cell population in vivo. Here we report that the executioner Caspase, Caspase-3, unexpectedly participates in that process. Mice deficient in Caspase-3 had increased numbers of immunophenotypic long-term repopulating stem cells in association with multiple functional changes, most prominently cell cycling. Though these changes were cell autonomous, they reflected altered activation by exogenous signals. Caspase-3(-/-) cells exhibited cell type-specific changes in phosphorylated members of the Ras-Raf-MEK-ERK pathway in response to specific cytokines, while notably, members of other pathways, such as pSTAT3, pSTAT5, pAKT, pp38 MAPK, pSmad2, and pSmad3, were unaffected. Caspase-3 contributes to stem cell quiescence, dampening specific signaling events and thereby cell responsiveness to microenvironmental stimuli.

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