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Oncogene. 2003 Mar 20;22(11):1629-37.

The oncoprotein MLL-ENL disturbs hematopoietic lineage determination and transforms a biphenotypic lymphoid/myeloid cell.

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Department of Genetics, University of Erlangen, Germany.


Mixed-lineage leukemia (MLL) fusion proteins are associated with a unique class of leukemia that is characterized by the simultaneous expression of lymphoid-specific as well as myeloid-specific genes. Here we report the first experimental model of MLL. Murine bone marrow cells were retrovirally transduced to express the MLL-eleven nineteen leukemia (MLL-ENL) fusion protein. When cultivated in flt-3 ligand, stem cell factor and interleukin-7 (IL-7) in a stroma-free culture system MLL-ENL-transduced as well as control cells showed a wave of B-lymphopoiesis. Whereas the controls exhausted their proliferative capacity in a CD19+/B220+ state, a continuously proliferating CD19-/B220+ cell population emerged in the MLL-ENL-transduced cultures. Despite the lymphoid surface marker, these cells were of monocytoid morphology. The immortalized cells contained unrearranged retrovirus, expressed MLL-ENL mRNA and were able to grow in syngenic recipients. From the diseased animals an MLL-ENL positive, B220+/CD19- cell type could be reisolated and cultivated in vitro. In analogy to human MLL, MLL-ENL-transformed cells not only coexpressed lymphocyte-specific (rag1, rag2, pax5, Tdt) and monocyte-specific genes (lysozyme, c-fms), but also showed rearrangements of the genomic immunoglobulin locus. This model shows that MLL-ENL influences events of early lineage determination and it will enable the investigation of the underlying molecular processes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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