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J Biol Chem. 2013 Jun 21;288(25):18219-27. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M113.475376. Epub 2013 May 14.

Notch1 gene mutations target KRAS G12D-expressing CD8+ cells and contribute to their leukemogenic transformation.

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McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.

Erratum in

  • J Biol Chem. 2013 Dec 27;288(52):37368.


Acute T-cell lymphoblastic leukemia/lymphoma (T-ALL) is an aggressive hematopoietic malignancy affecting both children and adults. Previous studies of T-ALL mouse models induced by different genetic mutations have provided highly diverse results on the issues of T-cell leukemia/lymphoma-initiating cells (T-LICs) and potential mechanisms contributing to T-LIC transformation. Here, we show that oncogenic Kras (Kras G12D) expressed from its endogenous locus is a potent inducer of T-ALL even in a less sensitized BALB/c background. Notch1 mutations, including exon 34 mutations and recently characterized type 1 and 2 deletions, are detected in 100% of Kras G12D-induced T-ALL tumors. Although these mutations are not detected at the pre-leukemia stage, incremental up-regulation of NOTCH1 surface expression is observed at the pre-leukemia and leukemia stages. As secondary genetic hits in the Kras G12D model, Notch1 mutations target CD8(+) T-cells but not hematopoietic stem cells to further promote T-ALL progression. Pre-leukemia T-cells without detectable Notch1 mutations do not induce T-ALL in secondary recipient mice compared with T-ALL tumor cells with Notch1 mutations. We found huge variations in T-LIC frequency and immunophenotypes of cells enriched for T-LICs. Unlike Pten deficiency-induced T-ALL, oncogenic Kras-initiated T-ALL is not associated with up-regulation of the Wnt/β-catenin pathway. Our results suggest that up-regulation of NOTCH1 signaling, through either overexpression of surface NOTCH1 or acquired gain-of-function mutations, is involved in both T-ALL initiation and progression. Notch1 mutations and Kras G12D contribute cooperatively to leukemogenic transformation of normal T-cells.


KRAS; Leukemia; Leukemia-initiating Cells; Lymphoma; Notch; Oncogene; Wnt Pathway

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