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SCL: from the origin of hematopoiesis to stem cells and leukemia.

Lécuyer E, Hoang T

Institut de Recherche en Immunovirologie et Cancérologie (IRIC), Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

In the hematopoietic system, lineage commitment and differentiation is controlled by the combinatorial action of transcription factors from diverse families. SCL is a basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor that is an essential regulator at several levels in the hematopoietic hierarchy and whose inappropriate regulation frequently contributes to the development of pediatric T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. This review discusses advances that have shed important light on the functions played by SCL during normal hematopoiesis and leukemogenesis and have revealed an unexpected robustness of hematopoietic stem cell function. Molecular studies have unraveled a mechanism through which gene expression is tightly controlled, as SCL functions within multifactorial complexes that exhibit an all-or-none switch-like behavior in transcription activation, arguing for a quantal process that depends on the concurrent occupation of target loci by all members of the complex. Finally, variations in composition of SCL-containing complexes may ensure flexibility and specificity in the regulation of lineage-specific programs of gene expression, thus providing the molecular basis through which SCL exerts its essential functions at several branch points of the hematopoietic hierarchy.

Exp. Hematol. 2004;32(1):11-24.

Pubmed ID: 14725896

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