Lineage decision-making within normal haematopoietic and leukemic stem cells

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External organisations

  • University of Salamanca


To produce the wide range of blood and immune cell types, haematopoietic stem cells can “choose” directly from the entire spectrum of blood cell fate-options. Affiliation to a single cell lineage can occur at the level of the haematopoietic stem cell and these cells are therefore a mixture of some pluripotent cells and many cells with lineage signatures. Even so, haematopoietic stem cells and their progeny that have chosen a particular fate can still “change their mind” and adopt a different developmental pathway. Many of the leukaemias arise in haematopoietic stem cells with the bulk of the often partially differentiated leukaemia cells belonging to just one cell type. We argue that the reason for this is that an oncogenic insult to the genome “hard wires” leukaemia stem cells, either through development or at some stage, to one cell lineage. Unlike normal haematopoietic stem cells, oncogene-transformed leukaemia stem cells and their progeny are unable to adopt an alternative pathway.


Original languageEnglish
Article number2247
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2020


  • leukaemia, stem cells, haematopoiesis, lineage decision making, oncogenes, cancer