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Retrovirology. 2008 Nov 4;5:99. doi: 10.1186/1742-4690-5-99.

Multi-stage Friend murine erythroleukemia: molecular insights into oncogenic cooperation.

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  • 1Inserm U830, 26 rue d'Ulm, 75248 Paris cedex 05, France.


The Friend virus SFFV (Spleen Focus Forming Virus) provokes an acute erythroblastosis in susceptible strains of mice that progresses to overt erythroleukemia by a multi-step process. For virologists, the Friend virus-induced disease has provided deep insights into the host mechanisms influencing susceptibility to retroviral infection and viremia. These insights have contributed to the understanding of HIV and other human retroviral infections. For cell biologists and oncologists, this leukemia has been a powerful experimental model to identify critical oncogenes involved in a multi-stage process, to understand the contribution of host genes to cancer development, and to investigate the mechanisms leading to cell growth autonomy. This model also provided an example of oncogenic reversion since Friend tumor cells can reinitiate their erythroid differentiation program when exposed in vitro to some chemical inducers. This review highlights recent findings demonstrating that the leukemic progression depends on the cooperation of at least two oncogenic events, one interfering with differentiation and one conferring a proliferative advantage. The Friend model of leukemia progression recapitulates the two phases of human acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Coupling of insights from studies on the Friend erythroleukemia with knowledge on AML might allow a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in the evolution of leukemia in mice and men.

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