Wnt signaling strength regulates normal hematopoiesis and its deregulation is involved in leukemia development

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Abstract

A strict balance between self-renewal and differentiation of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) is required in order to maintain homeostasis, as well as to efficiently respond to injury and infections. Numbers and fate decisions made by progenitors derived from HSC must also be carefully regulated to sustain large scale production of blood cells. The complex Wnt family of molecules generally is thought to be important to these processes, delivering critical signals to HSC and progenitors as they reside in specialized niches. Wnt proteins have also been extensively studied in connection with malignancies and are causatively involved in development of several types of leukemias. However, studies with experimental animal models have produced contradictory findings regarding the importance of Wnt signals for normal hematopoiesis and lymphopoiesis. Here we will argue that dose dependency of signaling via particular Wnt pathways accounts for much, if not all of this controversy. We conclude that there seems little doubt that Wnt proteins are required to sustain normal hematopoiesis, but are likely to be presented in carefully controlled gradients in a tissue specific fashion.

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