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Leukemia. 2012 May;26(5):1038-45. doi: 10.1038/leu.2011.328. Epub 2011 Nov 25.

Aberrant expression of RasGRP1 cooperates with gain-of-function NOTCH1 mutations in T-cell leukemogenesis.

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Division of Cellular Therapy, The Institute of Medical Science, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan.


Ras guanyl nucleotide-releasing proteins (RasGRPs) are activators of Ras. Previous studies have indicated the possible involvement of RasGRP1 and RasGRP4 in leukemogenesis. Here, the predominant role of RasGRP1 in T-cell leukemogenesis is clarified. Notably, increased expression of RasGRP1, but not RasGRP4, was frequently observed in human T-cell malignancies. In a mouse bone marrow transplantation model, RasGRP1 exclusively induced T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia/lymphoma (T-ALL) after a shorter latency when compared with RasGRP4. Accordingly, Ba/F3 cells transduced with RasGRP1 survived longer under growth factor withdrawal or phorbol ester stimulation than those transduced with RasGRP4, presumably due to the efficient activation of Ras. Intriguingly, NOTCH1 mutations resulting in a gain of function were found in 77% of the RasGRP1-mediated mouse T-ALL samples. In addition, gain-of-function NOTCH1 mutation was found in human T-cell malignancy with elevated expression of RasGRP1. Importantly, RasGRP1 and NOTCH1 signaling cooperated in the progression of T-ALL in the murine model. The leukemogenic advantage of RasGRP1 over RasGRP4 was attenuated by the disruption of a protein kinase C phosphorylation site (RasGRP1(Thr184)) not present on RasGRP4. In conclusion, cooperation between aberrant expression of RasGRP1, a strong activator of Ras, and secondary gain-of-function mutations of NOTCH1 have an important role in T-cell leukemogenesis.

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