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Keywords:

  • Hematopoietic stem cells;
  • Hematopoietic progenitors;
  • Hematological malignancies;
  • Hypoxia;
  • Acute myeloid leukemia;
  • Cited2;
  • HIF-1;
  • HIF-2

Abstract

Adult hematopoiesis depends on rare multipotent hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) that self-renew and give rise to progenitor cells, which differentiate to all blood lineages. The strict regulation of the fine balance between self-renewal and differentiation is essential for normal hematopoiesis and suppression of leukemia development. HSCs and progenitor cells are commonly assumed to reside within the hypoxic BM microenvironment, however, there is no direct evidence supporting this notion. Nevertheless, HSCs and progenitors do exhibit a hypoxic profile and strongly express Hif-1α. Although hypoxia signaling pathways are thought to play important roles in adult HSC maintenance and leukemogenesis, the precise function of Hif-dependent signaling in HSCs remains to be uncovered. Here we discuss recent gain-of-function and loss-of-function studies that shed light on the complex roles of hypoxia-signaling pathways in HSCs and their niches in normal and malignant hematopoiesis. Importantly, we comment on the current and often contrasting interpretations of the role of Hif-dependent signaling in stem cell functions. Stem Cells 2014;32:1390–1397