In order to investigate the biologic activity of tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) on human erythropoiesis, glycophorin A (GPA)+ erythroid cells were generated in serum-free liquid phase from human cord blood (CB) CD34+ progenitor cells. The surface expression of TRAIL-R1 was weakly detectable in the early-intermediate phase of erythroid differentiation (days 4-6; dim-intermediate GPA expression), whereas a clear-cut expression of TRAIL-R2 was observed through the entire course of erythroid differentiation (up to days 12-14; bright GPA expression). On the other hand, surface TRAIL-R3 and -R4 were not detected at any culture time. Besides inducing a rapid but small increase of apoptotic cell death, which was abrogated by the pan-caspase inhibitor z-VAD-fmk, the addition of recombinant TRAIL at day 6 of culture inhibited the generation of morphologically mature erythroblasts. Among the intracellular pathways investigated, TRAIL significantly stimulated the extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) but not the p38/mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) or the c-Jun NH 2-terminal kinase (JNK) pathway. Consistently with a key role of ERK1/2 in mediating the negative effects of TRAIL on erythroid maturation, PD98059, a pharmacologic inhibitor of the ERK pathway, but not z-VAD-fmk or SB203580, a pharmacologic inhibitor of p38/MAPK, reverted the antidifferentiative effect of TRAIL on CB-derived erythroblasts.
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