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Blood. 2011 Aug 4;118(5):1374-85. doi: 10.1182/blood-2010-08-300400. Epub 2011 May 31.

c-Maf plays a crucial role for the definitive erythropoiesis that accompanies erythroblastic island formation in the fetal liver.

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Department of Anatomy and Embryology, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, Graduate School of Comprehensive Human Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.


c-Maf is one of the large Maf (musculoaponeurotic fibrosarcoma) transcription factors that belong to the activated protein-1 super family of basic leucine zipper proteins. Despite its overexpression in hematologic malignancies, the physiologic roles c-Maf plays in normal hematopoiesis have been largely unexplored. On a C57BL/6J background, c-Maf(-/-) embryos succumbed from severe erythropenia between embryonic day (E) 15 and E18. Flow cytometric analysis of fetal liver cells showed that the mature erythroid compartments were significantly reduced in c-Maf(-/-) embryos compared with c-Maf(+/+) littermates. Interestingly, the CFU assay indicated there was no significant difference between c-Maf(+/+) and c-Maf(-/-) fetal liver cells in erythroid colony counts. This result indicated that impaired definitive erythropoiesis in c-Maf(-/-) embryos is because of a non-cell-autonomous effect, suggesting a defective erythropoietic microenvironment in the fetal liver. As expected, the number of erythroblasts surrounding the macrophages in erythroblastic islands was significantly reduced in c-Maf(-/-) embryos. Moreover, decreased expression of VCAM-1 was observed in c-Maf(-/-) fetal liver macrophages. In conclusion, these results strongly suggest that c-Maf is crucial for definitive erythropoiesis in fetal liver, playing an important role in macrophages that constitute erythroblastic islands.

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