The role of osteolineage cells in regulating hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) regeneration following myelosuppression is not well understood. Here we show that deletion of the pro-apoptotic genes Bak and Bax in osterix (Osx, also known as Sp7 transcription factor 7)-expressing cells in mice promotes HSC regeneration and hematopoietic radioprotection following total body irradiation. These mice showed increased bone marrow (BM) levels of the protein dickkopf-1 (Dkk1), which was produced in Osx-expressing BM cells. Treatment of irradiated HSCs with Dkk1 in vitro increased the recovery of both long-term repopulating HSCs and progenitor cells, and systemic administration of Dkk1 to irradiated mice increased hematopoietic recovery and improved survival. Conversely, inducible deletion of one allele of Dkk1 in Osx-expressing cells in adult mice inhibited the recovery of BM stem and progenitor cells and of complete blood counts following irradiation. Dkk1 promoted hematopoietic regeneration via both direct effects on HSCs, in which treatment with Dkk1 decreased the levels of mitochondrial reactive oxygen species and suppressed senescence, and indirect effects on BM endothelial cells, in which treatment with Dkk1 induced epidermal growth factor (EGF) secretion. Accordingly, blockade of the EGF receptor partially abrogated Dkk1-mediated hematopoietic recovery. These data identify Dkk1 as a regulator of hematopoietic regeneration and demonstrate paracrine cross-talk between BM osteolineage cells and endothelial cells in regulating hematopoietic reconstitution following injury.
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