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Blood. 2007 Sep 1;110(5):1420-8. Epub 2007 May 29.

Activation of mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK)/extracellular signal regulated kinase (ERK) signaling pathway is involved in myeloid lineage commitment.

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Department of Immunology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.


Common lymphoid progenitors (CLPs) are lymphoid-lineage-committed progenitor cells. However, they maintain a latent myeloid differentiation potential that can be initiated by stimulation with interleukin-2 (IL-2) via ectopically expressed IL-2 receptors. Although CLPs express IL-7 receptors, which share the common gamma chain with IL-2 receptors, IL-7 cannot initiate lineage conversion in CLPs. In this study, we demonstrate that the critical signals for initiating lineage conversion in CLPs are delivered via IL-2 receptor beta (IL-2R beta) intracellular domains. Fusion of the A region of the IL-2R beta cytoplasmic tail to IL-7R alpha enables IL-7 to initiate myeloid differentiation in CLPs. We found that Shc, which associates with the A region, mediates lineage conversion signals through the mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway. Because mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK)/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) inhibitors completely blocked IL-2-mediated lineage conversion, MAPK activation, specifically via the MEK/ERK pathway, is critically involved in the initiation of this event. Furthermore, formation of granulocyte/macrophage (GM) colonies by hematopoietic stem cells, but not by common myeloid progenitors (CMPs), was severely reduced in the presence of MEK/ERK inhibitors. These results demonstrate that activation of MEK/ERK plays an important role in GM lineage commitment.

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