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Cancer Res. 2000 Feb 15;60(4):808-14.

Expression of the Wilms' tumor suppressor gene, WT1, reduces the tumorigenicity of the leukemic cell line M1 in C.B-17 scid/scid mice.

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  • 1Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Royal Brisbane Hospital, Herston, Australia.


The Wilms' tumor suppressor gene, WT1, encodes a transcription of the Cys2-His2 zinc finger type. Loss of WT1 gene function has been implicated in the development of malignancies including Wilms' tumor and acute leukemias. We have shown previously that ectopic expression of WT1 +KTS isoforms in murine M1 leukemic cells spontaneously induces monocytic differentiation without the requirement for external differentiation-inducing stimuli. To determine whether these observed effects in vitro corresponded to a reduction in tumorigenicity in vivo, parental M1, control M1.Neo, and M1.WT1 +KTS cells were transplanted into C.B-17 scid/scid mice, and the growth and metastatic behavior of the cell lines were monitored for a period of 20 weeks. Mice inoculated either s.c. on the flank or directly into the peritoneal cavity, with M1 cells stably expressing WT1 +KTS isoforms exhibited a marked decrease in tumor formation compared with control groups. Moreover, tumors arising in mice after the injection of M1.WT1 +KTS cells exhibited a loss in ectopic WT1 protein expression. Confirmation that the tumors arose from M1.WT1 +KTS cells was achieved by the amplification of the introduced transgene from tumor samples and indicates that the tumorigenicity of leukemic M1 cells in these animals correlates with a loss in WT1 expression. This investigation is the first to demonstrate the tumor-suppressive effects of WT1 expression in a leukemic cell line, further advancing the notion that WT1 acts as a differentiation-promoting gene during hematopoiesis and that loss of functional WT1 expression may contribute to leukemogenesis in vivo.

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