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Oncogene. 2004 Apr 8;23(15):2727-31.

Early B-cell factor-associated zinc-finger gene is a frequent target of retroviral integration in murine B-cell lymphomas.

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Mouse Cancer Genetics Program, National Cancer Institute, Center for Cancer Research, West 7th Street at Fort Detrick, Frederick, MD 21702, USA.


The early B-cell factor (EBF)-associated zinc-finger protein (EBFAZ) binds to and negatively regulates EBF, a basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor required for B-cell lineage commitment and development of the olfactory epithelium. It also binds to SMA- and MAD-related protein 1 (SMAD1) and SMAD4 in response to bone morphogenic protein 2 (BMP2) signaling. It is highly related to ecotropic viral integration site 3 (EVI3), a protein that, like EBFAZ, contains 30 Kr├╝ppel-like zinc-finger repeats. In previous studies, we showed that Evi3 is a frequent target of retroviral integration in AKXD27 B-cell lymphomas. Here, we show that EBFAZ is also a frequent target. Integrations at Ebfaz and Evi3 are mutually exclusive, suggesting that they function in the same tumor pathway. Lymphomas with integrations at Ebfaz or Evi3 express the pre-B-cell-specific marker immunoglobulin lambda chain 5, and contain immunoglobulin heavy-chain rearrangements, suggesting that they are blocked at an early B-cell stage. Unlike Evi3, which is expressed at low levels in normal B cells, or Ebfaz, which is not expressed in B cells, both genes are highly expressed following viral integration. Collectively, our results suggest that ectopic expression of Ebfaz can substitute for the upregulated expression of Evi3 in B-cell disease and highlight the importance of this gene family in hematopoietic cancer.

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