Differentiation of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells is under strict control of a regulatory network orchestrated by lineage-specific transcription factors. A block in normal differentiation is a major contributing factor in the development of solid tumors and leukemias. Cells from patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) frequently harbor mutated or dysregulated transcription factor genes, suggesting their involvement in leukemogenesis. As a consequence, these alterations diminish the pool of available molecules of a small number of critical transcription factors, such as CCAAT enhancer binding proteins, PU.1, GATA-1, and AML-1. In this review, we focus on the mechanisms of how this functional pool of transcription factors is maintained during normal and malignant hematopoiesis, including direct protein-protein interactions, competition for DNA binding, and the control of transcription factor genes by proximal and distal regulatory elements. Results of recent studies of mice carrying hypomorphic PU.1 alleles have indicated that reduction in the expression of a single transcription factor is capable of predisposing mice to AML. The implications of these findings for the study of hematopoiesis in the future as well as novel approaches to more disease-specific therapies are discussed.
- Transcription factors
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