In T cell development, a pivotal decision-making stage, termed β-selection, integrates a TCRβ checkpoint to coordinate survival, proliferation and differentiation to an αβ T cell. Here, we review how transcriptional regulation coordinates fate determination in early T cell development to enable β-selection. Errors in this transcription control can trigger T cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. We describe how the β-selection checkpoint goes awry in leukaemic transformation.

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