A zebrafish model for HAX1-associated congenital neutropenia.

Severe congenital neutropenia (CN) is a rare heterogeneous group of diseases, characterized by a granulocytic maturation arrest. Autosomal recessive mutations in the HAX1 gene are frequently detected in affected individuals. However, the precise role of HAX1 during neutrophil differentiation is poorly understood. To date, no reliable animal model has been established to study HAX1-associated CN. Here we show that knockdown of zebrafish hax1 impairs neutrophil development without affecting other myeloid cells and erythrocytes. Furthermore, we have found that interference with the Hax1 function decreases the expression level of key target genes of the granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) signaling pathway. The reduced neutrophil numbers in the morphants could be reversed by G-CSF, which is also the main therapeutic intervention for patients who have CN. Our results demonstrate that zebrafish is a suitable model for HAX1-associated neutropenia. We anticipate that this model will serve as an in vivo platform to identify new avenues for developing tailored therapeutic strategies for CN patients, particularly for those individuals that do not respond to the G-CSF treatment.

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