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Genetics Of MLL Leukemogenesis

Date:
October 18, 2007
Source:
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Summary:
Scientists have identified the gene Meis1 as a critical player in the establishment of leukemia stem cells, and the development of MLL leukemia.

In the November 1st issue of Genes & Development, Dr. Michael Cleary (Stanford University School of Medicine) and colleagues identify the gene Meis1 as a critical player in the establishment of leukemia stem cells, and the development of MLL leukemia.

Mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) is a distinctive type of leukemia -- distinguished from the more prevalent acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) by the presence of a break and rearrangement of chromosome number 11. The design of effective therapies to combat MLL leukemia depends upon the understanding of the unique genetic signature that underlies this disease.

This chromosomal translocation that characterizes MLL activates the histone methyltranferase enzyme called MLL, inducing it to turn-on downstream gene targets that transform blood progenitor cells into leukemia stem cells (LSCs).

While some of the downstream targets of MLL are known (Hox genes, for example), the genetic changes that are sufficient to drive MLL leukomogeneis have remained elusive. Dr. Cleary and colleagues focused their work on another group of proteins that are mis-expressed in MLL leukemias: the TALE (three-amino-acid loop extension) class of proteins.

The researchers found that one gene in particular -- called Meis1 -- is required for leukemia stem cell maintenance. In fact, the researchers showed that Meis1 regulates many important biological properties of the disease including differentiation arrest, cycling activity, in vivo progression and self-renewal of LSCs.

Dr. Cleary is confident that "The critical role of Meis1 and other TALE class proteins in MLL leukemia stem cells provides a promising avenue for future studies to design more selective therapies for this poor prognosis subtype of leukemia."


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The above story is based on materials provided by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. "Genetics Of MLL Leukemogenesis." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 October 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071016181218.htm>.
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. (2007, October 18). Genetics Of MLL Leukemogenesis. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071016181218.htm
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. "Genetics Of MLL Leukemogenesis." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071016181218.htm (accessed October 2, 2014).

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