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Leukemia. 2006 Nov;20(11):1967-77. Epub 2006 Sep 21.

Identification of Notch target genes in uncommitted T-cell progenitors: No direct induction of a T-cell specific gene program.

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Department of Immunology, Erasmus MC, University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


Deregulated Notch signaling occurs in the majority of human T-ALL. During normal lymphoid development, activation of the Notch signaling pathway poses a T-cell fate on hematopoietic progenitors. However, the transcriptional targets of the Notch pathway are largely unknown. We sought to identify Notch target genes by inducing Notch signaling in human hematopoietic progenitors using two different methods: an intracellular signal through transfection of activated Notch and a Notch-receptor dependent signal by interaction with its ligand Delta1. Gene expression profiles were generated and evaluated with respect to expression profiles of immature thymic subpopulations. We confirmed HES1, NOTCH1 and NRARP as Notch target genes, but other reported Notch targets, including the genes for Deltex1, pre-T-cell receptor alpha and E2A, were not found to be differentially expressed. Remarkably, no induction of T-cell receptor gene rearrangements or transcription of known T-cell specific genes was found after activation of the Notch pathway. A number of novel Notch target genes, including the transcription factor TCFL5 and the HOXA cluster, were identified and functionally tested. Apparently, Notch signaling is essential to open the T-cell pathway, but does not initiate the T-cell program itself.

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