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.
Cortes, M., Liu, S. Y., Kwan, W., Alexa, K., Goessling, W., & North, T. E. (2015). Accumulation of the Vitamin D precursor cholecalciferol antagonizes hedgehog signaling to impair hemogenic endothelium formation. Stem Cell Reports, 5(4), 471–479. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.stemcr.2015.08.010