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Cancer Res. 2001 Sep 1;61(17):6480-6.

MLL-ENL causes a reversible and myc-dependent block of myelomonocytic cell differentiation.

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  • 1Department of Genetics, University Erlangen, 91058 Erlangen, Germany.


The translocation t(11;19) is a recurrent feature of a subgroup of acute leukemias occurring in infants. This event fuses the genes MLL and ENL and creates the leukemogenic oncoprotein MLL-ENL. We studied the effect of retroviral MLL-ENL expression in primary mouse hematopoietic cells and show here that MLL-ENL requires the oncoprotein Myc to establish a reversible differentiation arrest of a myelomonocytic precursor population. MLL-ENL-transduced cells proliferated as immature myeloid cells in the presence of interleukin 3. The addition of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor reversed the maturation block set by MLL-ENL and induced the development of mature granulocytes and macrophages accompanied by growth arrest. Gene expression analysis indicated a down-regulation of the proto-oncogene c-myc and of several c-myc target genes during granulocyte colony-stimulating factor-mediated differentiation. The role of c-myc in the MLL-ENL transformation pathway was tested by modulating the effective Myc protein concentrations in MLL-ENL transduced cells. Cotransduction of dominant-negative Myc neutralized the MLL-ENL effect and precluded transformation. In contrast, constitutive expression of Myc cooperated with MLL-ENL and caused the transformation of a cell population with an irreversible maturation arrest.

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