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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006 Apr 18;103(16):6338-43. Epub 2006 Apr 10.

Absence of the transcription factor CCAAT enhancer binding protein alpha results in loss of myeloid identity in bcr/abl-induced malignancy.

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Harvard Institutes of Medicine, Room 954, 77 Avenue Louis Pasteur, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


The lineage-determining transcription factor CCAAT enhancer binding protein alpha (C/EBPalpha) is required for myeloid differentiation. Decreased function or expression of C/EBPalpha is often found in human acute myeloid leukemia. However, the precise impact of C/EBPalpha deficiency on the maturation arrest in leukemogenesis is not well understood. To address this question, we used a murine transplantation model of a bcr/abl-induced myeloproliferative disease. The expression of bcr/abl in C/EBPalphapos fetal liver cells led to a chronic myeloid leukemia-like disease. Surprisingly, bcr/abl-expressing C/EBPalpha-/- fetal liver cells failed to induce a myeloid disease in transplanted mice, but caused a fatal, transplantable erythroleukemia instead. Accordingly, increased expression of the transcription factors SCL and GATA-1 in hematopoietic precursor cells of C/EBPalpha-/-R01-EY-11298 ) fetal livers was found. The mechanism for the lineage shift from myeloid to erythroid leukemia was studied in a bcr/abl-positive cell line. Consistent with findings of the transplant model, expression of C/EBPalpha and GATA-1 was inversely correlated. Id1, an inhibitor of erythroid differentiation, was identified as a critical direct target of C/EBPalpha. Down-regulation of Id1 by RNA interference impaired C/EBPalpha-induced granulocytic differentiation. Taken together, our study provides evidence that myeloid lineage identity of malignant hematopoietic progenitor cells requires the residual expression of C/EBPalpha.

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