The E26 transformation-specific or E-twenty-six (ETS) genes encode a superfamily of transcription factors involved in diverse biological processes. Here, we report the identification and characterization of a previously unidentified member of the ETS transcription factors, Spi2, that is found exclusively in the ray-finned fish kingdom. We show that the expression of spi2 is restricted to hemogenic endothelial cells (HECs) and to hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells (HSPCs) in zebrafish. Using bacteria artificial chromosome transgenesis, we generate a spi2 reporter line, TgBAC(spi2:P2a-GFP), which manifests the GFP pattern recapitulating the endogenous spi2 expression. Genetic ablation of spi2 has little effect on HEC formation and the endothelial-to-hematopoietic transition, but results in compromised proliferation of HSPCs in the caudal hematopoietic tissue (CHT) during early development and in severe myeloid lineage defect in adulthood. Epistatic analysis shows that spi2 acts downstream of runx1 in regulating HSPC development in the CHT. Our study identifies Spi2 as an essential regulator for definitive hematopoietic cell development and creates a TgBAC(spi2:P2a-GFP) reporter line for tracking HECs, HSPCs, myeloid cells and thrombocytes from early development to adulthood.

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