Our understanding of thrombopoiesis — the formation of blood platelets — has improved greatly in the last decade, with the cloning and characterization of thrombopoietin, the primary regulator of this process. Thrombopoietin affects nearly all aspects of platelet production, from self-renewal and expansion of HSCs, through stimulation of the proliferation of megakaryocyte progenitor cells, to support of the maturation of these cells into platelet-producing cells. The molecular and cellular mechanisms through which thrombopoietin affects platelet production provide new insights into the interplay between intrinsic and extrinsic influences on hematopoiesis and highlight new opportunities to translate basic biology into clinical advances.
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