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Blood. 1992 Mar 1;79(5):1327-33.

Involvement of the putative hematopoietic transcription factor SCL in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

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National Cancer Institute/Navy Medical Oncology Branch, National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, MD 20889.


The SCL gene, initially discovered at the site of a translocation breakpoint associated with the development of a stem cell leukemia, encodes a protein that contains the highly conserved basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) motif found in a large array of eukaryotic transcription factors. Recently, we have described a nonrandom, site-specific SCL rearrangement in several T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) cell lines that juxtaposes SCL with a distinct transcribed locus, SIL. The SIL/SCL rearrangement was found in leukemic blasts from 11 of 70 (16%) newly diagnosed T-cell ALL patients, a prevalence substantially higher than that of the t(11;14) translocation, which has previously been reported as the most frequent nonrandom chromosomal abnormality in T-cell ALL. We did not detect the SIL/SCL rearrangement in the leukemic blasts from 30 patients with B-cell precursor ALL, indicating that the rearrangement was specific for T-cell ALL. Analysis of RNA from these patients indicated that an SIL/SCL fusion mRNA was formed, joining SIL and SCL in a head-to-tail fashion. The fusion occurs in the 5' untranslated region (UTR) of both genes, preserving the SCL coding region. The net result of this rearrangement is that SCL mRNA expression becomes regulated by the SIL promoter, leading to inappropriate SCL expression. The resultant inappropriate expression of this putative transcription factor may then contribute to leukemic transformation in T-cell ALL.

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