Epidermal growth factor receptor-dependent DNA repair promotes murine and human hematopoietic regeneration.

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Chemotherapy and irradiation cause DNA damage to hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), leading to HSC depletion and dysfunction and risk for malignant transformation over time. Extrinsic regulation of HSC DNA repair is not well understood and therapies to augment HSC DNA repair following myelosuppression remain undeveloped. We report that epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) regulates DNA repair in HSCs following irradiation via activation of the DNA-dependent protein kinase - catalytic subunit (DNA-PKcs) and nonhomologous end joining (NHEJ). We show that hematopoietic regeneration in vivo following total body irradiation (TBI) is dependent upon EGF - mediated repair of DNA damage via activation of DNA-PKcs. Conditional deletion of EGFR in hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells (HSPCs) significantly decreased DNA-PKcs activity following irradiation, causing increased HSC DNA damage and depressed HSC recovery over time. Systemic administration of EGF promoted HSC DNA repair and rapid hematologic recovery in chemotherapy - treated mice and had no effect on AML growth in vivo. Further, EGF treatment drove the recovery of human HSCs capable of multilineage in vivo repopulation following radiation injury. Whole genome sequence analysis revealed no increase in coding region mutations in HSPCs from EGF - treated mice, but increased intergenic copy number variant mutations were detected. These studies demonstrate that EGF promotes HSC DNA repair and hematopoietic regeneration in vivo via augmentation of NHEJ. EGF has therapeutic potential to promote human hematopoietic regeneration and further studies are warranted to assess long-term hematopoietic effects.

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