Poikiloderma with Neutropenia (PN) is an autosomal recessive genodermatosis characterized by early-onset poikiloderma, pachyonychia, hyperkeratosis, bone anomalies and neutropenia, predisposing to myelodysplasia. The causative C16orf57/USB1 gene encodes a conserved phosphodiesterase that regulates the stability of spliceosomal U6-RNA. The involvement of USB1 in splicing has not yet allowed to unveil the pathogenesis of PN and how the gene defects impact on skin and bone tissues besides than on the haematological compartment. We established a zebrafish model of PN using a morpholino-knockdown approach with two different splicing morpholinos. Both usb1-depleted embryos displayed developmental abnormalities recapitulating the signs of the human syndrome. Besides the pigmentation and osteochondral defects, usb1-knockdown caused defects in circulation, manifested by a reduced number of circulating cells. The overall morphant phenotype was also obtained by co-injecting sub-phenotypic dosages of the two morpholinos and could be rescued by human USB1 RNA. Integrated in situ and real-time expression analyses of stage-specific markers highlighted defects of primitive haematopoiesis and traced back the dramatic reduction in neutrophil myeloperoxidase to the myeloid progenitors showing down-regulated pu.1 expression. Our vertebrate model of PN demonstrates the intrinsic requirement of usb1 in haematopoiesis and highlights PN as a disorder of myeloid progenitors associated with bone marrow dysfunction.
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