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Dev Growth Differ. 2010 Aug;52(6):505-16. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-169X.2010.01191.x.

Role of the polycomb group proteins in hematopoietic stem cells.

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Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, Chuo-ku, Chiba, Japan.


Polycomb group (PcG) proteins play a role in the transcriptional repression of genes through histone modifications. Recent studies have clearly demonstrated that PcG proteins are required for the maintenance of embryonic as well as a broad range of adult stem cells, including hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). PcG proteins maintain the self-renewal capacity of HSCs by repressing tumor suppressor genes and keep differentiation programs poised for activation in HSCs by repressing a cohort of hematopoietic developmental regulator genes via bivalent chromatin domains. Enforced expression of one of the PcG genes, Bmi1, augments the self-renewal capacity of HSCs. PcG proteins also maintain redox homeostasis to prevent premature loss of HSCs. These findings established PcG proteins as essential regulators of HSCs and underscored epigenetics as a new field of HSC research. In this review, we focus on the role of PcG proteins in the epigenetic regulation of the self-renewal capacity and multipotency of HSCs.

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