The development of T cells and B cells from pluripotent hematopoietic precursors occurs through a stepwise narrowing of developmental potential that ends in lineage commitment. During this process, lineage-specific genes are activated asynchronously, and lineage-inappropriate genes, although initially expressed, are asynchronously turned off. These complex gene expression events are the outcome of the changes in expression of multiple transcription factors with partially overlapping roles in early lymphocyte and myeloid cell development. Key transcription factors promoting B-cell development and candidates for this role in T-cell development are discussed in terms of their possible modes of action in fate determination. We discuss how a robust, stable, cell-type-specific gene expression pattern may be established in part by the interplay between endogenous transcription factors and signals transduced by cytokine receptors, and in part by the network of effects of particular transcription factors on each other.
Copyright 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.