Mathieu Baritaud, Ivan Nemazanyy, Marie-Noëlle Brunelle-Navas, Olivier A. Bernard, Lauriane Cabon, Laura Vela, Audrey Bertaux, Vu Quang Van, Sandrine Bouchet, Santos A. Susin, Kevin Garbin, Danielle Chateau, Laurianne Scourzic, Cécile Lopez, Marika Sarfati, Françoise Gilard, Laure Delavallée, Thomas Mercher
Mitochondrial metabolism is a tightly regulated process that plays a central role throughout the lifespan of hematopoietic cells. Herein, we analyze the consequences of the mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS)/metabolism disorder associated with the cell-specific hematopoietic ablation of apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF). AIF-null (AIF−/Y) mice developed pancytopenia that was associated with hypocellular bone marrow (BM) and thymus atrophy. Although myeloid cells were relatively spared, the B-cell and erythroid lineages were altered with increased frequencies of precursor B cells, pro-erythroblasts I, and basophilic erythroblasts II. T-cell populations were dramatically reduced with a thymopoiesis blockade at a double negative (DN) immature state, with DN1 accumulation and delayed DN2/DN3 and DN3/DN4 transitions. In BM cells, the OXPHOS/metabolism dysfunction provoked by the loss of AIF was counterbalanced by the augmentation of the mitochondrial biogenesis and a shift towards anaerobic glycolysis. Nevertheless, in a caspase-independent process, the resulting excess of reactive oxygen species compromised the viability of the hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) and progenitors. This led to the progressive exhaustion of the HSC pool, a reduced capacity of the BM progenitors to differentiate into colonies in methylcellulose assays, and the absence of cell-autonomous HSC repopulating potential in vivo. In contrast to BM cells, AIF−/Y thymocytes compensated for the OXPHOS breakdown by enhancing fatty acid β-oxidation. By over-expressing CPT1, ACADL and PDK4, three key enzymes facilitating fatty acid β-oxidation (e.g., palmitic acid assimilation), the AIF−/Y thymocytes retrieved the ATP levels of the AIF+/Y cells. As a consequence, it was possible to significantly reestablish AIF−/Y thymopoiesis in vivo by feeding the animals with a high-fat diet complemented with an antioxidant. Overall, our data reveal that the mitochondrial signals regulated by AIF are critical to hematopoietic decision-making. Emerging as a link between mitochondrial metabolism and hematopoietic cell fate, AIF-mediated OXPHOS regulation represents a target for the development of new immunomodulatory therapeutics.