Mutations in the WAS gene cause Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome (WAS), which is characterized by eczema, immunodeficiency and microthrombocytopenia. Although the role of WASP in lymphocytes and myeloid cells is well characterized, its role on megakaryocyte (MK) development is poorly understood. In order to develop a human cellular model that mimics the megakaryocytic-derived defects observed in WAS patients we used K562 cells, a well-known model for study of megakaryocytic development. We knocked out the WAS gene in K562 cells using a zinc-finger nuclease (ZFN) pair targeting the WAS intron 1 and a homologous donor DNA that disrupted WASP expression. Knockout of WASP on K562 cells (K562WASKO cells) resulted in several megakaryocytic-related defects such as morphological alterations, lower expression of CD41α, lower increments in F-actin polymerization upon stimulation, reduced CD43 expression and increased phosphatidylserine exposure. All these defects have been previously described either in WAS-knockout mice or in WAS patients, validating K562WASKO as a cell model for WAS. However, K562WASPKO cells showed also increased basal F-actin and adhesion, increased expression of CD61 and reduced expression of TGFβ and Factor VIII, defects that have never been described before for WAS-deficient cells. Interestingly, these phenotypic alterations correlate with different roles for WASP in megakaryocytic differentiation. All phenotypic alterations observed in K562WASKO cells were alleviated upon expression of WAS following lentiviral transduction, confirming the role of WASP in these phenotypes. In summary, in this work we have validated a human cellular model, K562WASPKO, that mimics the megakaryocytic-related defects found in WAS-knockout mice and have found evidences for a role of WASP as regulator of megakaryocytic differentiation. We propose the use of K562WASPKO cells as a tool to study the molecular mechanisms involved in the megakaryocytic-related defects observed in WAS patients and as a cellular model to study new therapeutic strategies.
- Received August 1, 2012.
- Accepted November 1, 2012.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0), which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium provided that the original work is properly cited and all further distributions of the work or adaptation are subject to the same Creative Commons License terms.