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Mol Cell Biol. 1994 June; 14(6): 3938–3948.
PMCID: PMC358760

Fusion with E2A converts the Pbx1 homeodomain protein into a constitutive transcriptional activator in human leukemias carrying the t(1;19) translocation.


E2A-PBX1 is a chimeric gene formed by the t(1;19)(q23;p13.3) chromosomal translocation of pediatric pre-B-cell leukemia. The E2A-Pbx1 fusion protein contains sequences encoding the transactivation domain of E2A joined to a majority of the Pbx1 protein, which contains a novel homeodomain. Earlier, we found that expression of E2A-Pbx1 causes malignant transformation of NIH 3T3 fibroblasts and induces myeloid leukemia in mice. Here we demonstrate that the homeodomains encoded by PBX1, as well as by the highly related PBX2 and PBX3 genes, bind the DNA sequence ATCAATCAA. E2A-Pbx1 strongly activates transcription in vivo through this motif, while Pbx1 does not. This finding suggests that E2A-Pbx1 transforms cells by constitutively activating transcription of genes regulated by Pbx1 or by other members of the Pbx protein family.

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