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Pas de deux: the coordinated coupling of erythroid differentiation with the cell cycle.

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Recent work reveals that cell cycle duration and structure are remodeled in lock-step with distinct stages of erythroid differentiation. These cell cycle features have regulatory roles in differentiation, beyond the generic function of increasing cell number.

RECENT FINDINGS: Developmental progression through the early erythroid progenitor stage (known as colony-forming-erythroid, or 'CFU-e') is characterized by gradual shortening of G1 phase of the cycle. This process culminates in a key transcriptional switch to erythroid terminal differentiation (ETD) that is synchronized with, and dependent on, S phase progression. Further, the CFU-e/ETD switch takes place during an unusually short S phase, part of an exceptionally short cell cycle that is characterized by globally fast replication fork speeds. Cell cycle and S phase speed can alter developmental events during erythroid differentiation, through pathways that are targeted by glucocorticoid and erythropoietin signaling during the erythroid stress response.

SUMMARY: There is close inter-dependence between cell cycle structure and duration, S phase and replication fork speeds, and erythroid differentiation stage. Further, modulation of cell cycle structure and speed cycle impacts developmental progression and cell fate decisions during erythroid differentiation. These pathways may offer novel mechanistic insights and potential therapeutic targets.

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