MAEA is an E3 ubiquitin ligase promoting autophagy and maintenance of haematopoietic stem cells

Qiaozhi Wei, Sandra Pinho, Shuxian Dong, Halley Pierce, Huihui Li, Fumio Nakahara, Jianing Xu, Chunliang Xu, Philip E. Boulais, Dachuan Zhang, Maria Maryanovich, Ana Maria Cuervo, Paul S. Frenette

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) tightly regulate their quiescence, proliferation, and differentiation to generate blood cells during the entire lifetime. The mechanisms by which these critical activities are balanced are still unclear. Here, we report that Macrophage-Erythroblast Attacher (MAEA, also known as EMP), a receptor thus far only identified in erythroblastic island, is a membrane-associated E3 ubiquitin ligase subunit essential for HSC maintenance and lymphoid potential. Maea is highly expressed in HSCs and its deletion in mice severely impairs HSC quiescence and leads to a lethal myeloproliferative syndrome. Mechanistically, we have found that the surface expression of several haematopoietic cytokine receptors (e.g. MPL, FLT3) is stabilised in the absence of Maea, thereby prolonging their intracellular signalling. This is associated with impaired autophagy flux in HSCs but not in mature haematopoietic cells. Administration of receptor kinase inhibitor or autophagy-inducing compounds rescues the functional defects of Maea-deficient HSCs. Our results suggest that MAEA provides E3 ubiquitin ligase activity, guarding HSC function by restricting cytokine receptor signalling via autophagy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2522
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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