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Blood. 2002 Jun 15;99(12):4634-7.

Human acute stem cell leukemia with multilineage differentiation potential via cascade activation of growth factor receptors.

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  • 1Department of Hematology-Oncology, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy.


The morphologic, immunophenotypic, genotypic, genomic, and functional features of an undifferentiated acute leukemia with stem cell features are reported. At light and electron microscopy, the leukemic population was represented by primitive progenitor cells with no evidence of differentiation. The blasts were CD34(+), AC133(+), CD71(-), HLA-DR(-), CD38(-/dim+), CD90(+), CD117(dim+), flt3(+); did not express B, T, or myeloid-associated antigens; and showed a germline configuration of the immunoglobulin and T-cell receptor. Genomic profiling documented the expression of early stem cell and myeloid-associated genes. Receptors for early-acting hemopoietic growth factors (HGFs) were detected, while receptors for unilineage HGF were not expressed. Incubation with the flt3 or Kit ligand induced the expression of unilineage HGF receptors, allowing these cells to respond to their respective ligands. Growth without differentiation was sustained only in the presence of early-acting HGF, namely flt3 ligand, while early and unilineage HGF gave rise to all types of hemopoietic colonies.

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