Molecular Biology of Erythropoiesis

  • James Palis


Red cells, comprising the most abundant cell type in the body, are uniquely designed to withstand the vicissitudes of the microcirculation to deliver oxygen to the tissues. Red cells are produced in the bone marrow where they undergo progressive maturation from unilineage progenitors to morphologically defined precursors to enucleated erythrocytes. Two distinct erythroid lineages exist during mammalian ontogeny. The first “primitive” erythroid lineage originates during early embryogenesis in the yolk sac and generates a transient wave of maturing erythroid cells. The second “definitive” erythroid lineage exists in the fetus and throughout postnatal life. Erythropoietin is the primary cytokine regulating erythroid cell maturation by signaling through its receptor to activate multiple intracellular signaling cascades. Erythropoiesis is also regulated by transcriptional complexes containing GATA-1, SCL, EKLF, and multiple other factors. These complexes assist in the creation of transcriptionally active chromatin regions and upregulate erythroid-specific genes. MicroRNAs have recently been found in erythroid cells and raise the possibility that gene downregulation is also important for lineage maturation. A better understanding of the regulation of the globin genes expressed in the embryo, fetus, and adult will ultimately lead to improved therapies for people with hemoglobinopathies, including sickle cell disease and thalassemia.


Stem Cell Factor Globin Gene Erythroid Cell Erythroid Progenitor Erythroid Differentiation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pediatrics, Center for Pediatric Biomedical ResearchUniversity of Rochester Medical CenterRochesterUSA

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