Regulation of haematopoiesis by the transcription factor Erg in health and disease

Professor Warren Alexander, Joint Head, Cancer and Haematology Division, The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Melbourne, VIC

The production of blood cells is exquisitely controlled to continuously and precisely replace dead and expended cells within narrow normal ranges; deregulation of these controls can lead to insufficient cellular production with associated anemia, bleeding and/or immune dysfunction or hyperproliferation typical of blood cell cancers. We have shown that the transcription factor Erg is a key regulator of haematopoietic stem cells, controlling self-renewal in times of stress, critical during embryonic blood cell development and in emergency responses in the adult. Our recent studies suggest that Erg also has blood cell lineage-specific roles – in erythro-megakaryocytic specification and for lymphopoiesis. These roles are critical, not only to control haematopoietic homeostasis, but have further uncovered important roles for Erg in haematopoietic malignancies.

Professor Warren Alexander received his Ph.D. in medical biology from the University of Melbourne, and his post-doctoral studies were completed at the Research Institute for Molecular Pathology in Vienna, Austria and the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research in Melbourne. Since 1994, he has been a Laboratory Head at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI) and is currently Joint Head of the Cancer and Haematology Division. An NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow, Professor Alexander’s research focuses on the molecular regulation of blood cell production and function.