Human malignancies progress through a multistep process that includes the development of critical somatic mutations over the clinical course. Recent novel findings have indicated that hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), which have the potential to self-renew and differentiate into multilineage hematopoietic cells, are an important cellular target for the accumulation of critical somatic mutations in hematological malignancies and play a central role in myeloid malignancy development. In contrast to myeloid malignancies, mature lymphoid malignancies, such as chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), are thought to originate directly from differentiated mature lymphocytes; however, recent compelling data have shown that primitive HSCs and hematopoietic progenitor cells contribute to the pathogenesis of mature lymphoid malignancies. Several representative mutations of hematological malignancies have been identified within the HSCs of CLL and lymphoma patients, indicating that the self-renewing long-lived fraction of HSCs can serve as a reservoir for the development of oncogenic events. Novel mice models have been established as human mature lymphoma models, in which specific oncogenic events target the HSCs and immature progenitor cells. These data collectively suggest that HSCs can be the cellular target involved in the accumulation of oncogenic events in the pathogenesis of mature lymphoid and myeloid malignancies.
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