MicroRNA-223 limits murine hemogenic endothelial cell specification and myelopoiesis

Embryonic definitive hematopoiesis generates hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) that are essential for the establishment and maintenance of the adult blood system. This process requires the specification of a subset of vascular endothelial cells (ECs) to become hemogenic ECs and to have subsequent endothelial-to-hematopoietic transition (EHT), and the underlying mechanisms are largely undefined. We identified microRNA (miR)-223 as a negative regulator of murine hemogenic EC specification and EHT. Loss of miR-223 leads to increased formation of hemogenic ECs and HSPCs, which is associated with increased retinoic acid signaling, which we previously showed as promoting hemogenic EC specification. Additionally, loss of miR-223 leads to the generation of myeloid-biased hemogenic ECs and HSPCs, which results in an increased proportion of myeloid cells throughout embryonic and postnatal life. Our findings identify a negative regulator of hemogenic EC specification and highlight the importance of this process for the establishment of the adult blood system.