The new millennium has brought with it a surge of research in the field of epigenetics. This has included advances in our understanding of stem cell characteristics and mechanisms of commitment to cell lineages prior to differentiation. The nature of stem cells is similar to that of malignant cells in that they have unlimited self-renewal and protection from apoptosis, leading researchers to suspect that stem cells are the target of oncogenesis. This review will explore the idea of how epigenetic control of gene expression may contribute to mechanisms controlling differentiation of myeloid progenitor cells and its importance to our understanding of myelogenous leukemias. Recent developments in epigenetic research pertaining to differentiation of myeloid progenitor cells and hematopoietic stem cells are presented including aspects of cellular memory, general myelopoiesis, change in gene expression patterns, signal transduction, and the influence of the microenvironment.
Keywords: epigenetics, myeloid cell differentiation, cancer, leukemia, hematopoiesis, stem cells
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