How Regulation of a Hox Gene Cluster Maintains Normal Blood-Forming Stem Cells and Inhibits Leukemia

Hox genes play a critical role in maintaining blood-forming stem cells, and abnormal Hox gene expression creates a risk of forming leukemia. Researchers co-led by Investigators Linheng Li, PhD, and Robb Krumlauf, PhD, found evidence that a key regulatory element called DERARE controls Hoxb gene cluster expression in blood-forming stem cells.

“It’s like we found a general control that simultaneously turns the lights on and off in many rooms, rather than having a single switch that controls each individual room,” says Li. Understanding this regulatory mechanism of the Hoxb cluster provides insight for enhancing blood-forming stem cell function and finding drugs to target acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

This article was published in the May 3, 2018, issue of Cell Stem Cell.