Epo's erythropoietic capacity is ascribed largely to its antiapoptotic actions. In part via gene profiling of bone marrow erythroblasts, Epo is now shown to selectively down-modulate the adhesion/migration factors chemokine receptor-4 (Cxcr4) and integrin alpha-4 (Itga4) and to up-modulate growth differentiation factor-3 (Gdf3), oncostatin-M (OncoM), and podocalyxin like-1 (PODXL). For PODXL, Epo dose-dependent expression of this CD34-related sialomucin was discovered in Kit(+)CD71(high) proerythroblasts and was sustained at subsequent Kit(-)CD71(high) and Ter119(+) stages. In vivo, Epo markedly induced PODXL expression in these progenitors and in marrow-resident reticulocytes. This was further associated with a rapid release of PODXL(+) reticulocytes to blood. As studied in erythroblasts expressing minimal Epo receptor (EpoR) alleles, efficient PODXL induction proved dependence on an EpoR-PY343 Stat5 binding site. Moreover, in mice expressing an EpoR-HM F343 allele, compromised Epo-induced PODXL expression correlated with abnormal anucleated red cell representation in marrow. By modulating this select set of cell-surface adhesion molecules and chemokines, Epo is proposed to mobilize erythroblasts from a hypothesized stromal niche and possibly promote reticulocyte egress to blood.
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