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Leukemia. 2012 Jul;26(7):1555-63. doi: 10.1038/leu.2012.19. Epub 2012 Jan 30.

Gfi-1 inhibits proliferation and colony formation of p210BCR/ABL-expressing cells via transcriptional repression of STAT 5 and Mcl-1.

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Department of Cancer Biology and Kimmel Cancer Center, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA


Expression of the transcription repressor Gfi-1 is required for the maintenance of murine hematopoietic stem cells. In human cells, ectopic expression of Gfi-1 inhibits and RNA interference-mediated Gfi-1 downregulation enhances proliferation and colony formation of p210BCR/ABL expressing cells. To investigate the molecular mechanisms that may explain the effects of perturbing Gfi-1 expression in human cells, Gfi-1-regulated genes were identified by microarray analysis in K562 cells expressing the tamoxifen-regulated Gfi-1-ER protein. STAT 5B and Mcl-1, two genes important for the proliferation and survival of hematopoietic stem cells, were identified as direct and functionally relevant Gfi-1 targets in p210BCR/ABL-transformed cells because: (i) their expression and promoter activity was repressed by Gfi-1 and (ii) when constitutively expressed blocked the proliferation and colony formation inhibitory effects of Gfi-1. Consistent with these findings, genetic or pharmacological inhibition of STAT 5 and/or Mcl-1 markedly suppressed proliferation and colony formation of K562 and CD34+ chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) cells. Together, these studies suggest that the Gfi-1STAT 5B/Mcl-1 regulatory pathway identified here can be modulated to suppress the proliferation and survival of p210BCR/ABL-transformed cells including CD34+ CML cells.

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