The NOTCH pathway is an evolutionarily conserved signalling network, which is fundamental in regulating developmental processes in invertebrates and vertebrates (Gazave et al. in BMC Evol Biol 9:249, 2009). It regulates self-renewal (Butler et al. in Cell Stem Cell 6:251–264, 2010), differentiation (Auderset et al. in Curr Top Microbiol Immunol 360:115–134, 2012), proliferation (VanDussen et al. in Development 139:488–497, 2012) and apoptosis (Cao et al. in APMIS 120:441–450, 2012) of diverse cell types at various stages of their development. NOTCH signalling governs cell-cell interactions and the outcome of such responses is highly context specific. This makes it impossible to generalize about NOTCH functions as it stimulates survival and differentiation of certain cell types, whereas inhibiting these processes in others (Meier-Stiegen et al. in PLoS One 5:e11481, 2010). NOTCH was first identified in 1914 in Drosophila and was named after the indentations (notches) present in the wings of the mutant flies (Bigas et al. in Int J Dev Biol 54:1175–1188, 2010). Homologs of NOTCH in vertebrates were initially identified in Xenopus (Coffman et al. in Science 249:1438–1441, 1990) and in humans NOTCH was first identified in T-Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (T-ALL) (Ellisen et al. in Cell 66:649–61, 1991). NOTCH signalling is integral in neurogenesis (Mead and Yutzey in Dev Dyn 241:376–389, 2012), myogenesis (Schuster-Gossler et al. in Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 104:537–542, 2007), haematopoiesis (Bigas et al. in Int J Dev Biol 54:1175–1188, 2010), oogenesis (Xu and Gridley in Genet Res Int 2012:648207, 2012), differentiation of intestinal cells (Okamoto et al. in Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol 296:G23–35, 2009) and pancreatic cells (Apelqvist et al. in Nature 400:877–881, 1999). The current review will focus on NOTCH signalling in normal and malignant blood cell production or haematopoiesis.
- Notch . Haematopoiesis . Leukaemia