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Semin Hematol. 2001 Jan;38(1):37-41.

Acute promyelocytic leukemia with a PLZF-RARalpha fusion protein.

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Institute of Hematology, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.


In most cases of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL), a fusion of the promyelocytic leukemia (PML) and the retinoic acid receptor-alpha (RARalpha) genes occurs, resulting in the expression of a PML-RARalpha chimeric protein. In approximately 1% of the cases of APL, variant chromosomal aberrations may be found fusing RARa with other genes. Four variant mutations have been described, and the t(11;17)(q21;q23) translocation generating a promyelocyte leukemia zinc finger (PLZF)-RARalpha fusion gene is the most common. PLZF-RARalpha-positive APL forms a clinically distinct group because unlike PML-RARalpha-positive leukemia, it does not respond to retinoic acid with terminal granulocytic differentiation of the cells, and remissions cannot be achieved with retinoids alone. At the molecular level, this has been explained by the retinoic acid-insensitive binding of corepressor proteins to the PLZF part of the fusion protein, leading to sustained repression of target genes that are important for cellular differentiation. Targeting of the PLZF-RARalpha-bound corepressor complexes using a combination of all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) and deacetylase inhibitors has shown that the repression of target genes can be relieved, allowing differentiation of the cells. In addition, when a combination of retinoic acid and the hematopoietic growth factor granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) is applied, the cells may be forced to undergo terminal differentiation, both in vitro and in vivo. This suggests that signals from the activated G-CSF receptor may induce the release of corepressor proteins from PLZF. Together, these findings indicate that PLZF-RARalpha-positive leukemia is not completely resistant to differentiation induction if the proper costimuli are given.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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