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Blood. 2001 Apr 15;97(8):2286-92.

Overexpression of HOXA10 perturbs human lymphomyelopoiesis in vitro and in vivo.

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  • 1The Terry Fox Laboratory, British Columbia Cancer Agency, and the Departments of Medicine and Medical Genetics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.


Several studies point to multiple members of the Hox transcription factor family as playing key roles in normal hematopoietic development, and they link the imbalanced expression of these transcription factors, in particular of the Abd-like A cluster HOX genes HOXA9 and HOXA10, to leukemogenesis. To test directly the hypothesis that HOXA10 is involved in human hematopoietic development, the gene was retrovirally overexpressed in human highly purified CD34(+)/GFP(+) hematopoietic progenitor cells derived from cord blood or fetal liver sources, and the impact of aberrant gene expression was analyzed on differentiation and proliferation in vitro and in vivo. HOXA10 misexpression profoundly impaired myeloid differentiation with a higher yield of blast cells in liquid culture and a greater than 100-fold increased generation of blast colonies after in vitro expansion or after replating of primary colonies first plated in methylcellulose directly after transduction (P < .01). Furthermore, aberrant HOXA10 expression almost completely blocked erythroid differentiation in methylcellulose (P < .02). HOXA10 deregulation also severely perturbed the differentiation of human progenitors in vivo, reducing B-cell development by 70% in repopulated NOD/SCID mice and enhancing myelopoiesis in the transduced compartment. The data provide evidence that the balanced expression of HOXA10 is pivotal for normal human hematopoietic development and that aberrant expression of the gene contributes to impaired differentiation and increased proliferation of human hematopoietic progenitor cells. These results also provide a framework to initiate more detailed analyses of HOX regulatory domains and HOX cofactors in the human system in vitro and in vivo.

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