The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) may play an important physiologicaland functional role in red cell development, according to a new study published in the journal Blood. Using a novel in-vitro serum- and feeder cell-free culture system, researchers showed that functional AhR is expressed in hematopoietic progenitor cells and that activation of AhR resulted in the exponential expansion of these progenitor cells as well as the development of megakaryocyte-and erythroid-lineage cells. Furthermore, modulation of AhR was shown to direct cell fate; chronic AhR agonism favored erythroid differentiation, while acute agonism favored megakaryocyte specification. The study results may potentially allow researchers to generate large quantities of human hematopoietic cells to better understand red cell and platelet development.
1. Smith, B. W., Rozelle, S. S., Leung, A., Ubellacker, J., Parks, A., Nah, S. K., French D, Gadue P., Monti S., Chui D.H., Steinberg M.H., Frelinger A.L., Michelson A.D., Theberge R., McComb M.E., Costello C.E., Kotton D.N., Mostoslavsky G., Sherr D.H., Murphy, G. J. The aryl hydrocarbon receptor directs hematopoietic progenitor cell expansion and differentiation. Blood. 2013; doi: 10.1182/blood-2012-11-466722.