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Runx transcription factors in the development and function of the definitive hematopoietic system

Marella de Bruijn and Elaine Dzierzak

Abstract

The Runx family of transcription factors (Runx1, Runx2, and Runx3) are highly conserved and encode proteins involved in a variety of cell lineages, including blood and blood-related cell lineages, during developmental and adult stages of life. They perform activation and repressive functions in the regulation of gene expression. The requirement for Runx1 in the normal hematopoietic development and its dysregulation through chromosomal translocations and loss-of-function mutations as found in acute myeloid leukemias highlight the importance of this transcription factor in the healthy blood system. Whereas another review will focus on the role of Runx factors in leukemias, this review will provide an overview of the normal regulation and function of Runx factors in hematopoiesis and focus particularly on the biological effects of Runx1 in the generation of hematopoietic stem cells. We will present the current knowledge of the structure and regulatory features directing lineage-specific expression of Runx genes, the models of embryonic and adult hematopoietic development that provide information on their function, and some of the mechanisms by which they affect hematopoietic function.

  • Submitted December 16, 2016.
  • Accepted January 29, 2017.
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