Stem cell reports

Accumulation of the Vitamin D Precursor Cholecalciferol Antagonizes Hedgehog Signaling to Impair Hemogenic Endothelium Formation.

PMID 26365513


Hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) are born from hemogenic endothelium in the dorsal aorta. Specification of this hematopoietic niche is regulated by a signaling axis using Hedgehog (Hh) and Notch, which culminates in expression of Runx1 in the ventral wall of the artery. Here, we demonstrate that the vitamin D precursor cholecalciferol (D3) modulates HSPC production by impairing hemogenic vascular niche formation. Accumulation of D3 through exogenous treatment or inhibition of Cyp2r1, the enzyme required for D3 25-hydroxylation, results in Hh pathway antagonism marked by loss of Gli-reporter activation, defects in vascular niche identity, and reduced HSPCs. Mechanistic studies indicated the effect was specific to D3, and not active 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D3, acting on the extracellular sterol-binding domain of Smoothened. These findings highlight a direct impact of inefficient vitamin D synthesis on cell fate commitment and maturation in Hh-regulated tissues, which may have implications beyond hemogenic endothelium specification.