The Janus tyrosine kinase 2 (JAK2) plays an important role in hematopoiesis of multiple lineages, and a gain-of-function JAK2 mutation, V617F, is the major determinant in myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs). JAK2 kinase inhibitors showed hematological toxicity in treating MPNs, calling for novel therapeutics that can target only the affected lineage while sparing others. This task is hampered by lack of understanding in how JAK2 signaling regulates the generation of different blood cells. We propose to fill this knowledge gap by determining JAK2 signaling pathways that differentially drive erythropoiesis vs. granulopoiesis, and delineate two novel pathways utilized by JAK2 to regulate signaling and transcription for erythroid differentiation. The overall goal of this proposl is to characterize mechanisms underlying how JAK2 regulates erythropoiesis.
Aim 1 will characterize a novel set of murine models;each expresses a different activating JAK2 mutant that results in a distinct MPN phenotype. We will determine whether different JAK2 mutants cause erythrocytosis or granulocytosis by promoting lineage-specific proliferation or by skewing differentiation in common progenitor compartments, and identify downstream signaling pathways required therein to cause different MPN phenotypes. We will also translate these mechanistic studies into the human setting.
Aims 2 and 3 will dissect two novel molecular mechanisms for JAK2 to orchestrate signaling and transcription for erythroid differentiation, and examine their contribution in MPN development.
Aim 2 will use both in vitro and in vivo experiments to characterize how JAK2 directs endocytosis of the erythropoietin receptor to terminate signaling. This process involves a new function of the p85 subunit of PI3K and is PI3K kinase activity-independent. Defects in this process result in prolonged signaling in primary and familial congenital polycythemia.
In Aim 3, we will employ transcriptional profiling and genome-wide chromatin-immunoprecipitation followed by high-throughput sequencing (ChIP-seq) to delineate a novel pathway whereby JAK2 controls transcription, not by the canonical JAK-STAT pathway, but by regulating chromatin structure through phosphorylating the polycomb repression complex 2. Results from these studies will fill key gaps in our understanding of signaling in hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells that regulate both normal and excessive erythropoiesis. These results will also further our understanding of how Epo signaling is terminated, and will shift the paradigm of how JAK2 activates erythroid transcriptional network. In addition, these results will shed light on MPN biology and facilitate the design of novel and more effective therapeutic agents that specifically target affected lineage without compromising other lineages.

Public Health Relevance

The poor understanding of how red blood cells are produced poses a critical barrier to the development of artificial blood production systems, and of safer and more effective treatments for anemias and polycythemias, which affect millions of people in the U.S. This proposal aims to delineate molecular mechanisms that regulate this process both positively and negatively. Results from these studies will significantly improve our understanding of erythropoiesis and will shed light on the etiology of hematological malignancies and facilitate the design of novel therapeutic agents.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Research Project (R01)
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Molecular and Cellular Hematology (MCH)
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Qasba, Pankaj
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University of Texas Sw Medical Center Dallas
Anatomy/Cell Biology
Schools of Medicine
United States
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