Diamond-Blackfan anemia (DBA) is a genetic blood disease caused by heterozygous loss-of-function mutations in ribosomal protein (RP) genes, most commonly RPS19. The signature feature of DBA is hypoplastic anemia occurring in infants, although some older patients develop multilineage cytopenias with bone marrow hypocellularity. The mechanism of anemia in DBA is not fully understood and even less is known about the pancytopenia that occurs later in life, in part because patient hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) are difficult to obtain, and the current experimental models are suboptimal. We modeled DBA by editing healthy human donor CD34+ HSPCs with CRISPR/Cas9 to create RPS19 haploinsufficiency. In vitro differentiation revealed normal myelopoiesis and impaired erythropoiesis, as observed in DBA. After transplantation into immunodeficient mice, bone marrow repopulation by RPS19+/− HSPCs was profoundly reduced, indicating hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) impairment. The erythroid and HSC defects resulting from RPS19 haploinsufficiency were partially corrected by transduction with an RPS19-expressing lentiviral vector or by Cas9 disruption of TP53. Our results define a tractable, biologically relevant experimental model of DBA based on genome editing of primary human HSPCs and they identify an associated HSC defect that emulates the pan-hematopoietic defect of DBA.
Senthil Velan Bhoopalan, Jonathan S. Yen, Thiyagaraj Mayuranathan, Kalin D. Mayberry, Yu Yao, Maria Angeles Lillo Osuna, Yoonjeong Jang, Janaka S.S. Liyanage, Lionel Blanc, Steven R. Ellis, Marcin W. Wlodarski, Mitchell J. Weiss