Hematopoietic lineage commitment is regulated by cytokines and master transcription factors, but it remains unclear how a progenitor cell chooses a lineage in the face of conflicting cues. Through transcript counting in megakaryocyte-erythroid progenitors undergoing erythropoiesis, we show that the expression levels of the pro-erythropoiesis transcription factor EKLF (also known as KLF1) and receptor EpoR are inversely correlated with their pro-megakaryopoiesis counterparts, FLI-1 and TpoR (also known as MPL). Notably, as progenitors commit to the erythrocyte lineage, EpoR is upregulated and TpoR is strongly downregulated, thus boosting the potency of the pro-erythropoiesis cue erythropoietin and effectively eliminating the activity of the pro-megakaryopoiesis cue thrombopoietin. Based on these findings, we propose a newmodel for exclusive decision making that explicitly incorporates signals from extrinsic cues, and we experimentally confirm a model prediction of temporal changes in transcript noise levels in committing progenitors. Our study suggests that lineage-specific receptor levels can modulate potencies of cues to achieve robust commitment decisions.
- Conflicting cue
- Lineage commitment