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Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 2012;360:1-18. doi: 10.1007/82_2012_229.

The Notch pathway in hematopoietic stem cells.

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Program in Cancer Research. Institut Mar Investigacions Mèdiques (IMIM), Hospital del Mar, Parc de Recerca Biomèdica de Barcelona, Dr. Aiguader 88, 08003, Barcelona, Spain.


Hematopoiesis is the process that generates all the cell types of the blood, which are responsible for oxygen transport and immune defense. It has been now more than 50 years from the demonstration that blood cells derive from a common ancestor called Hematopoietic Stem Cell (HSC) McCulloch and Till (1960). Thus, the hematopoietic process relies on the unlimited and distinctive self-renewal ability of HSC, which in the adult mammalian organisms reside in the bone marrow, but their generation occurs during embryonic life. Questions still remain about how HSCs acquire and maintain the features of self-renewal and pluripotency that define stem-cell populations. Notch is a crucial signaling pathway involved in the generation of cell diversity and stem-cell maintenance in different systems. In some cases, Notch prevents differentiation, while in other contexts Notch directly participates in promoting cell differentiation. In the following sections, we will review what is known about the role of Notch in HSC establishment and hematopoietic cell lineage specification.

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