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Genes Chromosomes Cancer. 2001 Dec;32(4):353-63.

Transcription factor BACH2 is transcriptionally regulated by the BCR/ABL oncogene.

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  • 1Department of Haematology, Imperial College School of Medicine, Hammersmith Hospital, London, UK.


Expression of BCR/ABL, a constitutively active tyrosine kinase, is a primary event in the pathogenesis of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and Ph-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (Ph+ALL). Inhibition of the BCR/ABL kinase activity in the BV173 CML cell line with STI571 resulted in a significant overexpression of a 10-kb novel mRNA, found to be the human ortholog of the murine Bach2, a B-cell-specific transcription factor. The human BACH2 cDNA is >9,120 bp long and includes an open reading frame of 2,526 bp encoding a protein with a basic leucine zipper (bZip) and a BTB/POZ domain, mediating DNA-binding and heterodimerization. BACH2 was consistently upregulated (2-10-fold) in all 10 Ph+ lymphoid lines tested following BCR/ABL inhibition. In CML myeloid cell lines (n = 8) and BCR/ABL-negative lines (n = 6), BACH2 was either undetectable by Northern blotting or did not change in response to STI571, suggesting that BACH2 repression by BCR/ABL may be specifically relevant to lymphoid transformation. Quantitative RT/PCR revealed a significantly lower level of BACH2 expression in leukocytes from patients with CML (n = 24) as compared to normal individuals (n = 23) (P < 0.0005). Moreover, CD34+ cells treated in vitro with STI571 exhibited a consistent upregulation of BACH2 in 8 of 10 CMLs but in none of the 9 normal individuals tested. Transcription regulation of BACH2 in BCR/ABL-positive cells was exerted via the MEK pathways, as shown by their responses to the U0126-specific inhibitor. Radiation hybrid mapping and FISH revealed that BACH2 is located on chromosome 6, band q15, a region frequently associated with deletions in ALL and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, suggesting its possible role as a tumor suppressor gene. However, no rearrangement or loss of signal was observed by Southern blotting in 34 lymphomas, 10 B-cell ALLs, or seven reactive lymph nodes. The pattern of BACH2 expression in BCR/ABL-positive cells suggests that transcriptional repression by this regulator is impaired in CML and may contribute to the emergence of lymphoid blast crisis.

Copyright 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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