Despite its complexity, blood is probably the best understood developmental system, largely due to seminal experimentation in the mouse. Clinically, hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) transplantation represents the most widely deployed regenerative therapy, but human HSCs have only been characterized relatively recently. The discovery that immune-deficient mice could be engrafted with human cells provided a powerful approach for studying HSCs. We highlight 2 decades of studies focusing on isolation and molecular regulation of human HSCs, therapeutic applications, and early lineage commitment steps, and compare mouse and humanized models to identify both conserved and species-specific mechanisms that will aid future preclinical research.
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