Involvement of MAF/SPP1 axis in the development of bone marrow fibrosis in PMF patients
Primary myelofibrosis (PMF) is a myeloproliferative neoplasm characterized by hyperplastic megakaryopoiesis and myelofibrosis. We recently described the upregulation of MAF (v-maf avian musculoaponeurotic fibrosarcoma oncogene homolog) in PMF CD34+ hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs) compared to healthy donor. Here we demonstrated that MAF is also upregulated in PMF compared with the essential thrombocytemia (ET) and polycytemia vera (PV) HPCs. MAF overexpression and knockdown experiments shed some light into the role of MAF in PMF pathogenesis, by demonstrating that MAF favors the megakaryocyte and monocyte/macrophage commitment of HPCs and leads to the increased expression of proinflammatory and profibrotic mediators. Among them, we focused our further studies on SPP1 and LGALS3. We assessed SPP1 and LGALS3 protein levels in 115 PMF, 47 ET and 24 PV patients plasma samples and we found that SPP1 plasma levels are significantly higher in PMF compared with ET and PV patients. Furthermore, in vitro assays demonstrated that SPP1 promotes fibroblasts and mesenchymal stromal cells proliferation and collagen production. Strikingly, clinical correlation analyses uncovered that higher SPP1 plasma levels in PMF patients correlate with a more severe fibrosis degree and a shorter overall survival. Collectively our data unveil that MAF overexpression contributes to PMF pathogenesis by driving the deranged production of the profibrotic mediator SPP1.