The Role of Homeobox Transcription Factors in Hematopoietic Stem Cell Function

For her Master’s research, Rhonna Gurevich studied the prevention of apoptosis (programmed cell death) in cardiac cells. Now she’s examining the genes that transform normal blood cells into malignant ones in leukemia patients. Gurevich is focusing on hematopoietic stem cells, which can self-renew to produce more stem cells with non-specific function or divide to create highly specialized cells to replace others that die or are lost. Maintaining the balance between stem cell self-renewal and division is a tightly controlled process. Gurevich is investigating how certain genes regulate hematopoietic stem cells, and specifically, how they may cause leukemia by disrupting the normal balance of cell renewal and division. She hopes that increasing knowledge of these genetic alterations can enable development of drugs to treat and potentially cure leukemia patients.