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Br J Haematol. 1995 Aug;90(4):855-67.

BCL-2 expression by leukaemic blasts in a SCID mouse model of biphenotypic leukaemia associated with the t(4;11)(q21;q23) translocation.

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ICRF Oncology Group, Institute of Child Health, London.


Acute leukaemia of infancy is associated with abnormalities at chromosome band 11q23, and has a poor prognosis. The gene involved. Mixed Lineage Leukaemia (MLL), has been identified and has the characteristics of a transcription factor. The BCL-2 gene responsible for blocking of programmed cell death is highly expressed in a number of haematological malignancies, both with and without the t(14;18) translocation. Those without the translocation include acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL). In these diseases the BCL-2 protein is implicated in drug resistance to apoptosis-inducing chemotherapeutic agents. High BCL-2 expression is also associated with autonomous growth of leukaemic blasts in culture and predicts a poor prognosis. The SEM cell line, established using blood lymphoblasts from a 5-year-old girl in first relapse with t(4;11) ALL, expresses lymphoid (CD19) and myeloid (CD13) cell surface markers. In cell culture, a subpopulation of cells (< 30%) express the BCL-2 protein. A reproducible model of true biphenotypic leukaemia in the SCID mouse has been established using the SEM-K2 cell line (a subclone of the SEM cell line). Between 5 and 50 million cells injected intravenously (i.v.) produce complete replacement of the murine bone marrow by day 30, associated with blood lymphoblastosis and infiltration of the spleen. No tumour masses were seen. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) analysis of the cell line and blood from the SCID-human (SCID-hu) chimaera has confirmed the presence of the t(4;11). Reverse transcriptional-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) reveals that the breakpoint lies between exons 7 and 8 of the MLL-1 gene on chromosome 11 (the main breakpoint region). A further translocation, t(7;13), has been identified. Fluorescent antibody cell sorter (FACS) analysis of tumour material recovered from the SCID-hu model confirms expression of CD19 and CD13 identical to that of the cell line. In addition, BCL-2 expression in SCID-hu marrow is now seen in the majority of tumour cells. BCL-2 expression appears to confer a survival advantage to the blast cells in vivo. This reproducible model of biphenotypic leukaemia suggests that BCL-2 expression may play a role in leukaemogenesis. The model is suitable for the investigation of gene-targeted therapy, including antisense oligonucleotides, directed towards the MLL and BCL-2 genes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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