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Neoplasia. 1999 Jun;1(2):128-37.

Inhibition of T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia proliferation in vivo by re-expression of the p16INK4a tumor suppressor gene.

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Department of Biology and Cancer Center, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla 92093-0063, USA.


T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) is characterized by the presence of differentiation-inhibited pro- and pre-T-cell blasts. The p16INK4a tumor suppressor gene has been shown to be frequently deleted in human T-ALL cases. Deletion of p16INK4a may be associated with poor prognosis and relapse of the disease. Radiation-induced murine T-ALL in C57B1/6 mice shares pathogenetic and molecular characteristics with the human disease. We used the murine disease as a model to study the status of the INK4/ARF gene locus and to examine the effect of p16INK4a-re-expression in T-ALL cells on their leukemic potential in vivo. In 9 of 17 radiation-induced murine T-ALL cell lines, the p16INK4a protein was not expressed as determined by immunoblotting. Southern blot analysis revealed homozygous deletions of the p16INK4a gene locus in three of the nine lines, along with the genes encoding p15INK4b and p19ARF. Transduction of p16INK4a-negative T-ALL lines with retrovirus encoding p16INK4a significantly inhibited their in vitro proliferation by inducing G1-arrest. Importantly, re-expression of p16INK4a in p16INK4a-negative T-ALL cells obliterated the induction of lethal disseminated leukemia in syngeneic mice. This is the first demonstration that re-establishment of p16INK4a expression is critical for in vivo growth regulation of T-ALL cells.

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