Aldehyde dehydrogenases are regulators of hematopoietic stem cell numbers and B-cell development.
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High levels of the aldehyde dehydrogenase isoform ALDH1A1 are expressed in hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs); however, its importance in these cells remains unclear. Consistent with an earlier report, we find that loss of ALDH1A1 does not affect HSCs. Intriguingly, however, we find that ALDH1A1 deficiency is associated with increased expression of the ALDH3A1 isoform, suggesting its potential to compensate for ALDH1A1. Mice deficient in ALDH3A1 have a block in B-cell development as well as abnormalities in cell cycling, intracellular signaling, and gene expression. Early B cells from these mice exhibit excess reactive oxygen species and reduced metabolism of reactive aldehydes. Mice deficient in both ALDH3A1 and ALDH1A1 have reduced numbers of HSCs as well as aberrant cell cycle distribution, increased reactive oxygen species levels, p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase activity and sensitivity to DNA damage. These findings demonstrate that ALDH3A1 can compensate for ALDH1A1 in bone marrow and is important in B-cell development, both ALDH1A1 and 3A1 are important in HSC biology; and these effects may be due, in part, to changes in metabolism of reactive oxygen species and reactive aldehydes.