Date of Graduation


Document Type

Dissertation (PhD)

Program Affiliation

Genes and Development

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Guillermina Lozano

Committee Member

Michele Barton

Committee Member

Richard Behringer

Committee Member

Karen Hirschi

Committee Member

Frank Marini


The bone marrow accommodates hematopoietic stem cells and progenitors. These cells provide an indispensible resource for replenishing the blood constituents throughout an organism’s life. A tissue with such a high turn-over rate mandates intact cycling checkpoint and apoptotic pathways to avoid inappropriate cell proliferation and ultimately the development of leukemias. p53, a major tumor suppressor, is a transcription factor that regulates cell cycle, and induces apoptosis and senescence. Mice inheriting a hypomorphic p53 allele in the absence of Mdm2, a p53 inhibitor, have elevated p53 cell cycle activity and die by postnatal day 13 due to hematopoietic failure. Hematopoiesis progresses normally during embryogenesis until it moves to the bone marrow in late development. Increased oxidative stress in the bone marrow compartment postnatally is the impediment for normal hematopoiesis via activation of p53. p53 in turn stimulates the generation of more reactive oxygen species and depletes bone marrow cellularity. Also, p53 exerts various defects on the hematopoietic niche by increasing mesenchymal lineage populations and their differentiation. Hematopoietic defects are rescued with antioxidants or when cells are cultured at low oxygen levels. Deletion of p16 partially rescues bone marrow cellularity and progenitors via a p53-independent pathway. Thus, although p53 is required to inhibit tumorigenesis, Mdm2 is required to control ROS-induced p53 levels for sustainable hematopoiesis and survival during homeostasis.


p53, hematopoiesis, HSC, ROS, progenitors, niche, p16