In order to sustain proficient life-long hematopoiesis, hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) must possess robust mechanisms to preserve their quiescence and genome integrity. DNA-damaging stress can perturb HSC homeostasis by affecting their survival, self-renewal, and differentiation. Ablation of the kinase ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM), a master regulator of the DNA damage response, impairs HSC fitness. Paradoxically, we show here that loss of a single allele of Atm enhances HSC functionality in mice. To explain this observation, we explored a possible link between ATM and the tumor suppressor phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN), which also regulates HSC function. We generated and analyzed a knockin mouse line (PtenS398A/S398A), in which PTEN cannot be phosphorylated by ATM. Similar to Atm+/–, PtenS398A/S398A HSCs have enhanced hematopoietic reconstitution ability, accompanied by resistance to apoptosis induced by genotoxic stress. Single-cell transcriptomic analyses and functional assays revealed that dormant PtenS398A/S398A HSCs aberrantly tolerate elevated mitochondrial activity and the accumulation of reactive oxygen species, which are normally associated with HSC priming for self-renewal or differentiation. Our results unveil a molecular connection between ATM and PTEN, which couples the response to genotoxic stress and dormancy in HSCs.
Jerome Fortin, Christian Bassi, Parameswaran Ramachandran, Wanda Y. Li, Ruxiao Tian, Ida Zarrabi, Graham Hill, Bryan E. Snow, Jillian Haight, Chantal Tobin, Kelsey Hodgson, Andrew Wakeham, Vuk Stambolic, Tak W. Mak