Differentiation of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells is tightly regulated depending on environmental changes in order to maintain homeostasis. Transcription factors direct the development of hematopoietic cells, such as GATA-1 for erythropoiesis and PU.1 for myelopoiesis. However, recent findings obtained from single-cell analyses raise the question of whether these transcription factors are "initiators" or just "executors" of differentiation, leaving the initiation of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cell differentiation (i.e. lineage commitment) unclear. While a stochastic process is likely involved in commitment, it cannot fully explain the homeostasis of hematopoiesis nor "on-demand" hematopoiesis in response to environmental changes. Transcription factors BACH1 and BACH2 may regulate both commitment and on-demand hematopoiesis because they control erythroid-myeloid and lymphoid-myeloid differentiation by repressing the myeloid program, and their activities are repressed in response to infectious and inflammatory conditions. We summarize possible mechanisms of lineage commitment of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells suggested by recent findings and discuss the erythroid and lymphoid commitment of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells, focusing on the gene regulatory network composed of genes encoding key transcription factors. Surprising similarity exists between commitment to erythroid and lymphoid lineages, including repression of the myeloid program by BACH factors. The suggested gene regulatory network of BACH factors sheds light on the myeloid-based model of hematopoiesis. This model will help to understand the tuning of hematopoiesis in higher eukaryotes in the steady-state condition as well as in emergency conditions, the evolutional history of the system, aging and hematopoietic disorders.
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