Purpose of review: This review focuses on our current understanding of fate decisions in bipotent megakaryocyte-erythroid progenitors (MEPs). Although extensive research has been carried out over decades, our understanding of how MEP commit to the erythroid versus megakaryocyte fate remains unclear.
Recent findings: We discuss the isolation of primary human MEP, and focus on gene expression patterns, epigenetics, transcription factors and extrinsic factors that have been implicated in MEP fate determination. We conclude with an overview of the open debates in the field of MEP biology.
Summary: Understanding MEP fate is important because defects in megakaryocyte and erythrocyte development lead to disease states such as anaemia, thrombocytopenia and leukaemia. MEP also represent a model system for studying fundamental principles underlying cell fate decisions of bipotent and pluripotent progenitors, such that discoveries in MEP are broadly applicable to stem/progenitor cell biology.