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Immunol Rev. 2015 Jan;263(1):50-67. doi: 10.1111/imr.12237.

Epigenetics in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

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Center for Medical Genetics, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.


Normal T-cell development is a strictly regulated process in which hematopoietic progenitor cells migrate from the bone marrow to the thymus and differentiate from early T-cell progenitors toward mature and functional T cells. During this maturation process, cooperation between a variety of oncogenes and tumor suppressors can drive immature thymocytes into uncontrolled clonal expansion and cause T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL). Despite improved insights in T-ALL disease biology and comprehensive characterization of its genetic landscape, clinical care remained largely similar over the past decades and still consists of high-dose multi-agent chemotherapy potentially followed by hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Even with such aggressive treatment regimens, which are often associated with considerable side effects, clinical outcome is still extremely poor in a significant subset of T-ALL patients as a result of therapy resistance or hematological relapses. Recent genetic studies have identified recurrent somatic alterations in genes involved in DNA methylation and post-translational histone modifications in T-ALL, suggesting that epigenetic homeostasis is critically required in restraining tumor development in the T-cell lineage. In this review, we provide an overview of the epigenetic regulators that could be implicated in T-ALL disease biology and speculate how the epigenetic landscape of T-ALL could trigger the development of epigenetic-based therapies to further improve the treatment of human T-ALL.


T-ALL; epigenetics; therapeutics

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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