Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) rely on instructive cues from the bone marrow (BM) niche to maintain their quiescence and adapt blood production to the organism's needs. Alterations in the BM niche are commonly observed in blood malignancies and directly contribute to the aberrant function of disease-initiating leukemic stem cells (LSCs). Here, we review recent insights into the cellular and molecular determinants of the normal HSC niche and describe how genetic changes in stromal cells and leukemia-induced BM niche remodeling contribute to blood malignancies. Moreover, we discuss how these findings can be applied to non-cell-autonomous therapies targeting the LSC niche.
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