The mitochondrial metabolic checkpoint and aging of hematopoietic stem cells

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Purpose of review

Cell-cycle checkpoints are surveillance mechanisms in eukaryotic cells that monitor the condition of the cell, repair cellular damages, and allow the cell to progress through the various phases of the cell cycle when conditions become favorable. We review recent advances in hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) biology, highlighting a mitochondrial metabolic checkpoint that is essential for HSCs to return to the quiescent state.

Recent findings

As quiescent HSCs enter the cell cycle, mitochondrial biogenesis is induced, which is associated with increased mitochondrial protein folding stress and mitochondrial oxidative stress. Mitochondrial unfolded protein response and mitochondrial oxidative stress response are activated to alleviate stresses and allow HSCs to exit the cell cycle and return to quiescence. Other mitochondrial maintenance mechanisms include mitophagy and asymmetric segregation of aged mitochondria.


Because loss of HSC quiescence results in the depletion of the HSC pool and compromised tissue regeneration, deciphering the molecular mechanisms that regulate the mitochondrial metabolic checkpoint in HSCs will increase our understanding of hematopoiesis and how it becomes dysregulated under pathological conditions and during aging. More broadly, this knowledge is instrumental for understanding the maintenance of cells that convert between quiescence and proliferation to support their physiological functions.

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