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Mol Cell Biol. 1995 Dec;15(12):6961-70.

An immunological renal disease in transgenic mice that overexpress Fli-1, a member of the ets family of transcription factor genes.

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  • 1Program in Molecular Biology and Cancer, Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


The proto-oncogene Fli-1 is a member of the ets family of transcription factor genes. Its high expression in the thymus and spleen and the presence of DNA binding sites for Fli-1 in a number of lymphoid cell-specific gene suggest that Fli-1 is involved in the regulation of lymphopoiesis. Activation of the Fli-1 gene by either chromosomal translocation or viral insertion leads to Ewing's sarcoma in humans and erythroleukemia in mice, respectively. Thus, Fli-1 is normally involved in pathways involved in the regulation of cell growth and differentiation. We have generated H-2Kk-Fli-1 transgenic mice that overexpress Fli-1 in various mouse tissues, with the highest levels of Fli-1 protein in the thymus and spleen. These Fli-1 transgenic mice developed a high incidence of a progressive immunological renal disease and ultimately died of renal failure caused by tubulointerstitial nephritis and immune-complex glomerulonephritis. The incidences of renal disease correlated with the levels of Fli-1 protein in lymphoid tissues of transgenic lines. The hypergammaglobulinemia, splenomegaly, B-cell hyperplasia, accumulation of abnormal CD3+ B220+ T lymphoid cells and CD5+ B220+ B cells in peripheral lymphoid tissues, and detection of various autoantibodies in the sera of diseased Fli-1 transgenic mice suggested the involvement of an immune dysfunction in the pathogenesis of the renal disease. In addition, splenic B cells from transgenic mice exhibited increased proliferation and prolonged survival in vitro in response to mitogens. Taken together, these data suggest that overexpression or ectopic expression of Fli-1 perturbs normal lymphoid cell function and programmed cell death. Thus, H-2Kk-Fli-1 transgenic mice may serve as a murine model for autoimmune disease in humans, such as systemic lupus erythematosus.

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