Biochemical pharmacology

Valproic acid regulates erythro-megakaryocytic differentiation through the modulation of transcription factors and microRNA regulatory micro-networks.

PMID 25241289


Valproic acid (VPA) exhibits important pharmacological properties but has been reported to trigger side effects, notably on the hematological system. We previously reported that VPA affects hematopoietic homeostasis by inhibiting erythroid differentiation and promoting myeloid and megakaryocyte differentiation. Here, we analyzed the effect of VPA on regulatory factors involved in erythro-megakaryocytic differentiation pathways, including transcription factors and microRNAs (miRs). We demonstrate that VPA inhibited erythroid differentiation in erythropoietin (Epo)-stimulated TF1 leukemia cells and CD34(+)/hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) and in aclacinomycin-(Acla)-treated K562 cells. Mir-144/451 gene expression was decreased in all erythroid and megakaryocyte models in correlation with GATA-1 inhibition. In Epo-stimulated CD34(+)/HSCs, VPA induced the expression of the ETS family transcription factors PU.1, ETS-1, GABP-α, Fli-1 and GATA-2, which are all known to be negative regulators of erythropoiesis, while it promoted the megakaryocytic pathway. PU.1 and ETS-1 expression were induced in correlation with miR-155 inhibition; however, the GATA-1/PU.1 interaction was promoted. Using megakaryoblastic Meg-01 cells, we demonstrated that VPA induced megakaryocyte morphological features and CD61 expression. GATA-2 and miR-27a expression were increased in correlation with a decrease in RUNX1 mRNA expression, suggesting megakaryocyte differentiation. Finally, by using valpromide and the Class I HDACi MS-275, we validated that the well-described HDACi activity of VPA is not required in the inhibitory effect on erythropoiesis. Overall, this report shows that VPA modulates the erythro-megakaryocytic differentiation program through regulatory micro-networks involving GATA and ETS transcription factors and miRNAs, notably the GATA-1/miR-144/451 axis.