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Br J Haematol. 2008 Apr;141(2):179-87. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2141.2008.06992.x. Epub 2008 Mar 3.

HIC1 tumour suppressor gene is suppressed in acute myeloid leukaemia and induced during granulocytic differentiation.

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Experimental Oncology/Haematology, Department of Clinical Research, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland.


A hallmark of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) is a block in differentiation caused by deregulated gene expression. The tumour suppressor Hypermethylated In Cancer 1 (HIC1) is a transcriptional repressor, which is epigenetically silenced in solid cancers. HIC1 mRNA expression was found to be low in 128 patient samples of AML and CD34+ progenitor cells when compared with terminally differentiated granulocytes. HIC1 mRNA was induced in a patient with t(15;17)-positive acute promyelocytic leukaemia receiving all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) therapy. We therefore investigated whether HIC1 plays a role in granulocytic differentiation and whether loss of function of this gene might contribute to the differentiation block in AML. We evaluated HIC1 mRNA levels in HL-60 and U-937 cells upon ATRA-induced differentiation and in CD34+ progenitor cells after granulocyte colony-stimulating factor-induced differentiation. In both models of granulocytic differentiation, we observed significant HIC1 induction. When HIC1 mRNA was suppressed in HL-60 cells using stably expressed short hairpin RNA targeting HIC1, granulocytic differentiation was altered as assessed by CD11b expression. Bisulphite sequencing of GC-rich regions (CpG islands) in the HIC1 promoter provided evidence that the observed suppression in HL-60 cells was not because of promoter hypermethylation. Our findings indicate a role for the tumour suppressor gene HIC1 in granulocytic differentiation. Low expression of HIC1 may very well contribute to pathogenic events in leukaemogenesis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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