The proliferation, differentiation, and survival of cells of the macrophage lineage depends upon signals from the macrophage colony-stimulating factor (CSF) receptor (CSF1R). CSF1R is expressed by embryonic macrophages and induced early in adult hematopoiesis, upon commitment of multipotent progenitors to the myeloid lineage. Transcriptional activation of CSF1R requires interaction between members of the E26 transformation-specific family of transcription factors (Ets) (notably PU.1), C/EBP, RUNX, AP-1/ATF, interferon regulatory factor (IRF), STAT, KLF, REL, FUS/TLS (fused in sarcoma/ranslocated in liposarcoma) families, and conserved regulatory elements within the mouse and human CSF1R locus. One element, the Fms-intronic regulatory element (FIRE), within intron 2, is conserved functionally across all the amniotes. Lineage commitment in multipotent progenitors also requires down-regulation of specific transcription factors such as MYB, FLI1, basic leucine zipper transcriptional factor ATF-like (BATF3), GATA-1, and PAX5 that contribute to differentiation of alternative lineages and repress CSF1R transcription. Many of these transcription factors regulate each other, interact at the protein level, and are themselves downstream targets of CSF1R signaling. Control of CSF1R transcription involves feed–forward and feedback signaling in which CSF1R is both a target and a participant; and dysregulation of CSF1R expression and/or function is associated with numerous pathological conditions. In this review, we describe the regulatory network behind CSF1R expression during differentiation and development of cells of the mononuclear phagocyte system.

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