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Leukemia. 2008 Mar;22(3):521-9. Epub 2007 Dec 20.

The role of the proto-oncogene ETS2 in acute megakaryocytic leukemia biology and therapy.

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Developmental Therapeutics Program, Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, Detroit, MI, USA.


Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in Down syndrome (DS) children has several unique features including a predominance of the acute megakaryocytic leukemia (AMkL) phenotype, higher event-free survivals compared to non-DS children using cytosine arabinoside (ara-C)/anthracycline-based protocols and a uniform presence of somatic mutations in the X-linked transcription factor gene, GATA1. Several chromosome 21-localized transcription factor oncogenes including ETS2 may contribute to the unique features of DS AMkL. ETS2 transcripts measured by real-time RT-PCR were 1.8- and 4.1-fold, respectively, higher in DS and non-DS megakaryoblasts than those in non-DS myeloblasts. In a doxycycline-inducible erythroleukemia cell line, K562pTet-on/ETS2, induction of ETS2 resulted in an erythroid to megakaryocytic phenotypic switch independent of GATA1 levels. Microarray analysis of doxycycline-induced and doxycycline-uninduced cells revealed an upregulation by ETS2 of cytokines (for example, interleukin 1 and CSF2) and transcription factors (for example, TAL1), which are key regulators of megakaryocytic differentiation. In the K562pTet-on/ETS2 cells, ETS2 induction conferred differences in sensitivities to ara-C and daunorubicin, depending on GATA1 levels. These results suggest that ETS2 expression is linked to the biology of AMkL in both DS and non-DS children, and that ETS2 acts by regulating expression of hematopoietic lineage and transcription factor genes involved in erythropoiesis and megakaryopoiesis, and in chemotherapy sensitivities.

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