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Mol Cell Biol. 2004 Feb;24(3):1256-69.

E2a/Pbx1 induces the rapid proliferation of stem cell factor-dependent murine pro-T cells that cause acute T-lymphoid or myeloid leukemias in mice.

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Department of Pathology, University of California-San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093-0612, USA.


Oncoprotein E2a/Pbx1 is produced by the t(1;19) chromosomal translocation of human pre-B acute lymphoblastic leukemia. E2a/Pbx1 blocks differentiation of primary myeloid progenitors but, paradoxically, induces apoptosis in established pre-B-cell lines, and no transforming function of E2a/Pbx1 has been reported in cultured lymphoid progenitors. Here, we demonstrate that E2a/Pbx1 induces immortal proliferation of stem cell factor (SCF)-dependent pro-T thymocytes by a mechanism dependent upon both its transactivation and DNA-binding functions. E2a-Pbx1 cooperated with cytokines or activated signaling oncoproteins to induce cell division, as inactivation of conditional E2a/Pbx1 in either factor-dependent pro-T cells or pro-T cells made factor independent by expression of Bcr/Abl resulted in pro-T-cell quiescence, while reactivation of E2a/Pbx1 restored cell division. Infusion of E2a/Pbx1 pro-T cells in mice caused T lymphoblastic leukemia and, unexpectedly, acute myeloid leukemia. The acute lymphoblastic leukemia did not evidence further maturation, suggesting that E2a/Pbx1 establishes an early block in pro-T-cell development that cannot be overcome by marrow or thymic microenvironments. In an E2a/Pbx1 pro-T thymocyte clone that induced only pro-T acute lymphoblastic leukemia, coexpression of Bcr/Abl expanded its leukemic phenotype to include acute myeloid leukemia, suggesting that unique functions of cooperating signaling oncoproteins can influence the lymphoid versus myeloid character of E2a/Pbx1 leukemia and may cooperate with E2a/Pbx1 to dictate the pre-B-cell phenotype of human leukemia containing t(1;19).

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