The signals that control the regenerative ability of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) in response to damage are unknown. Here, we demonstrate that downstream activation of the Hedgehog (Hh) signaling pathway induces cycling and expansion of primitive bone marrow hematopoietic cells under homeostatic conditions and during acute regeneration. However, this effect is at the expense of HSC function, because continued Hh activation during regeneration represses expression of specific cell cycle regulators, leading to HSC exhaustion.
In vivotreatment with an inhibitor of the Hh pathway rescues these transcriptional and functional defects in HSCs. Our study establishes Hh signaling as a regulator of the HSC cell cycle machinery that balances hematopoietic homeostasis and regeneration in vivo.