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The equilibrium between self-renewal and differentiation of hematopoietic stem cells is regulated by epigenetic mechanisms. In particular, Polycomb-group (PcG) proteins have been shown to be involved in this process by repressing genes involved in cell-cycle regulation and differentiation. PcGs are histone modifiers that reside in two multi-protein complexes: Polycomb Repressive Complex 1 and 2 (PRC1 and PRC2). The existence of multiple orthologs for each Polycomb gene allows the formation of a multitude of distinct PRC1 and PRC2 sub-complexes. Changes in the expression of individual PcG genes are likely to cause perturbations in the composition of the PRC, which affect PRC enzymatic activity and target selectivity. An interesting recent development is that aberrant expression of, and mutations in, PcG genes have been shown to occur in hematopoietic neoplasms, where they display both tumor-suppressor and oncogenic activities. We therefore comprehensively reviewed the latest research on the role of PcG genes in normal and malignant blood cell development. We conclude that future research to elucidate the compositional changes of the PRCs and methods to intervene in PRC assembly will be of great therapeutic relevance to combat hematological malignancies.


V Radulović, G de Haan, K Klauke. Polycomb-group proteins in hematopoietic stem cell regulation and hematopoietic neoplasms. Leukemia. 2013 Mar;27(3):523-33

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PMID: 23257781

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