Determinants of lymphoid-myeloid lineage diversification

Annu Rev Immunol. 2006:24:705-38. doi: 10.1146/annurev.immunol.24.021605.090742.


In recent years, investigators have made great progress in delineating developmental pathways of several lymphoid and myeloid lineages and in identifying transcription factors that establish and maintain their fate. However, the developmental branching points between these two large cell compartments are still controversial, and little is known about how their diversification is induced. Here, we give an overview of determinants that play a role at lymphoid-myeloid junctures, in particular transcription factors and cytokine receptors. Experiments showing that myeloid lineages can be reversibly reprogrammed into one another by transcription factor network perturbations are used to highlight key principles of lineage commitment. We also discuss experiments showing that lymphoid-to-myeloid but not myeloid-to-lymphoid conversions can be induced by the enforced expression of a single transcription factor. We close by proposing that this asymmetry is related to a higher complexity of transcription factor networks in lymphoid cells compared with myeloid cells, and we suggest that this feature must be considered when searching for mechanisms by which hematopoietic stem cells become committed to lymphoid lineages.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • B-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Dendritic Cells / cytology
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Fetus / cytology
  • Fetus / immunology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / immunology*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Killer Cells, Natural / cytology
  • Killer Cells, Natural / immunology
  • Liver / cytology
  • Liver / embryology
  • Liver / immunology
  • Lymphopoiesis
  • Mice
  • Models, Immunological
  • Myelopoiesis
  • Receptors, Cytokine / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Receptors, Cytokine
  • Transcription Factors