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Keywords:

  • Acute leukemia;
  • Hematopoietic progenitors;
  • Differentiation;
  • Erythroid differentiation;
  • Myeloid cells;
  • Transcription factors;
  • Signal transduction

Abstract

Developmental processes, like blood formation, are orchestrated by transcriptional networks. Those transcriptional networks are highly responsive to various environmental stimuli and affect common precursors resulting in increased production of cells of the erythroid lineage or myeloid lineage (granulocytes, neutrophils, and macrophages). A significant body of knowledge has accumulated describing transcription factors that drive differentiation of these two major cellular pathways, in particular the antagonistic master regulators such as GATA-1 and PU.1. However, little is known about factors that work upstream of master regulators to enhance differentiation toward one lineage. These functions become especially important under various stress conditions like sudden loss of red blood cells or pathogen infection. This review describes recent studies that begin to provide evidence for such factors. An increased understanding of factors regulating cellular commitment will advance our understanding of the etiology of diseases like anemia, cancer, and possibly other blood related disorders. STEM Cells2013;31:1237–1244