Erythropoietin directly remodels the clonal composition of murine hematopoietic multipotent progenitor cells
The cytokine erythropoietin (EPO) is a potent inducer of erythrocyte development and one of the most prescribed biopharmaceuticals. The action of EPO on erythroid progenitor cells is well established, but its direct action on hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) is still debated. Here, using cellular barcoding, we traced the differentiation of hundreds of single murine HSPCs, after ex vivo EPO exposure and transplantation, in five different hematopoietic cell lineages, and observed the transient occurrence of high-output myeloid-erythroid-megakaryocyte-biased and myeloid-B-cell-dendritic cell-biased clones. Single-cell RNA sequencing analysis of ex vivo EPO-exposed HSPCs revealed that EPO induced the upregulation of erythroid associated genes in a subset of HSPCs, overlapping with multipotent progenitor (MPP) 1 and MPP2. Transplantation of barcoded EPO-exposed MPP2 confirmed their enrichment in myeloid-erythroid-biased clones. Collectively, our data show that EPO does act directly on MPP independent of the niche and modulates fate by remodeling the clonal composition of the MPP pool.