Hematopoietic stem cells have the potential to develop into multipotent and different lineage-restricted progenitor cells that subsequently generate all mature blood cell types. The classical model of hematopoietic lineage commitment proposes a first restriction point at which all multipotent hematopoietic progenitor cells become committed either to the lymphoid or to the myeloid development, respectively. Recently, this model has been challenged by the identification of murine as well as human hematopoietic progenitor cells with lymphoid differentiation capabilities that give rise to a restricted subset of the myeloid lineages. As the classical model does not include cells with such capacities, these findings suggest the existence of alternative developmental pathways that demand the existence of additional branches in the classical hematopoietic tree. Together with some phenotypic criteria that characterize different subsets of multipotent and lineage-restricted progenitor cells, we summarize these recent findings here.
©2008 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin New York