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1.  Synergistic activity of Card11 mutant and Bcl6 in the development of diffuse large B‐cell lymphoma in a mouse model 
Cancer Science  2016;107(11):1572-1580.
Diffuse large B‐cell lymphoma (DLBCL) is the most common subtype of malignant lymphoma; it derives from germinal center B cells. Although DLBCL harbors many genetic alterations, synergistic roles between such alterations in the development of lymphoma are largely undefined. We previously established a mouse model of lymphoma by transplanting gene‐transduced germinal center B cells into mice. Here, we chose one of the frequently mutated genes in DLBCL, Card11 mutant, to explore its possible synergy with other genes, using our lymphoma model. Given that BCL6 and BCL2 expression and/or function are often deregulated in human lymphoma, we examined the possible synergy between Card11, Bcl6, and Bcl2. Germinal center B cells were induced in vitro, transduced with Card11 mutant, Bcl6, and Bcl2, and transplanted. Mice rapidly developed lymphomas, with exogenously transduced Bcl2 being dispensable. Although some mice developed lymphoma in the absence of transduced Bcl6, the absence was compensated by elevated expression of endogenous Bcl6. Additionally, the synergy between Card11 mutant and Bcl6 in the development of lymphoma was confirmed by the fact that the combination of Card11 mutant and Bcl6 caused lymphoma or death significantly earlier and with higher penetrance than Card11 mutant or Bcl6 alone. Lymphoma cells expressed interferon regulatory factor 4 and PR domain 1, indicating their differentiation toward plasmablasts, which characterize activated B cell‐like DLBCL that represents a clinically aggressive subtype in humans. Thus, our mouse model provides a versatile tool for studying the synergistic roles of altered genes underlying lymphoma development.
PMCID: PMC5132338  PMID: 27560392
Bcl6; Card11; diffuse large B cell lymphoma; germinal center; mouse model
2.  New mouse model of acute adult T‐cell leukemia generated by transplantation of AKT, BCLxL, and HBZ‐transduced T cells 
Cancer Science  2016;107(8):1072-1078.
Adult T‐cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATL) develops in human T‐cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV‐1) carriers. Although the HTLV‐1‐encoded HBZ gene is critically involved, HBZ alone is insufficient and additional, cooperative “hits” are required for the development of ATL. Candidate cooperative hits are being defined, but methods to rapidly explore their roles in ATL development in collaboration with HBZ are lacking. Here, we present a new mouse model of acute type ATL that can be generated rapidly by transplanting in vitro‐induced T cells that have been retrovirally transduced with HBZ and two cooperative genes, BCLxL and AKT, into mice. Co‐transduction of HBZ and BCLxL/AKT allowed these T cells to grow in vitro in the absence of cytokines (Flt3‐ligand and interleukin‐7), which did not occur with any two‐gene combination. Although transplanted T cells were a mixture of cells transduced with different combinations of the genes, tumors that developed in mice were composed of HBZ/BCLxL/AKT triply transduced T cells, showing the synergistic effect of the three genes. The genetic/epigenetic landscape of ATL has only recently been elucidated, and the roles of additional “hits” in ATL pathogenesis remain to be explored. Our model provides a versatile tool to examine the roles of these hits, in collaboration with HBZ, in the development of acute ATL.
PMCID: PMC4982588  PMID: 27223899
AKT; ATL; BCLxL; HBZ; mouse model
3.  STX11 functions as a novel tumor suppressor gene in peripheral T-cell lymphomas 
Cancer Science  2015;106(10):1455-1462.
Peripheral T-cell lymphomas (PTCL) are a heterogeneous group of non-Hodgkin lymphomas with poor prognosis. Their molecular pathogenesis has not been entirely elucidated. We previously showed that 6q24 is one of the most frequently deleted regions in primary thyroid T-cell lymphoma. In this study, we extended the analysis to other subtypes of PTCL and performed functional assays to identify the causative genes of PTCL that are located on 6q24. Genomic loss of 6q24 was observed in 14 of 232 (6%) PTCL cases. The genomic loss regions identified at 6q24 always involved only two known genes, STX11 and UTRN. The expression of STX11, but not UTRN, was substantially lower in PTCL than in normal T-cells. STX11 sequence analysis revealed mutations in two cases (one clinical sample and one T-cell line). We further analyzed the function of STX11 in 14 cell lines belonging to different lineages. STX11 expression only suppressed the proliferation of T-cell lines bearing genomic alterations at the STX11 locus. Interestingly, expression of a novel STX11 mutant (p.Arg78Cys) did not exert suppressive effects on the induced cell lines, suggesting that this mutant is a loss-of-function mutation. In addition, STX11-altered PTCL not otherwise specified cases were characterized by the presence of hemophagocytic syndrome (67% vs 8%, P = 0.04). They also tended to have a poor prognosis compared with those without STX11 alteration. These results suggest that STX11 plays an important role in the pathogenesis of PTCL and they may contribute to the future development of new drugs for the treatment of PTCL.
PMCID: PMC4637999  PMID: 26176172
Functional analyses; genomic loss of 6q24; peripheral T-cell lymphomas; STX11; tumor suppressor gene
4.  Clonal heterogeneity of lymphoid malignancies correlates with poor prognosis 
Cancer Science  2014;105(7):897-904.
Clonal heterogeneity in lymphoid malignancies has been recently reported in adult T-cell lymphoma/leukemia, peripheral T-cell lymphoma, not otherwise specified, and mantle cell lymphoma. Our analysis was extended to other types of lymphoma including marginal zone lymphoma, follicular lymphoma and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. To determine the presence of clonal heterogeneity, 332 cases were examined using array comparative genomic hybridization analysis. Results showed that incidence of clonal heterogeneity varied from 25% to 69% among different types of lymphoma. Survival analysis revealed that mantle cell lymphoma and diffuse large B-cell lymphoma with clonal heterogeneity showed significantly poorer prognosis, and that clonal heterogeneity was confirmed as an independent predictor of poor prognosis for both types of lymphoma. Interestingly, 8q24.1 (MYC) gain, 9p21.3 (CDKN2A/2B) loss and 17p13 (TP53, ATP1B2, SAT2, SHBG) loss were recurrent genomic lesions among various types of lymphoma with clonal heterogeneity, suggesting at least in part that alterations of these genes may play a role in clonal heterogeneity.
PMCID: PMC4317909  PMID: 24815991
Array comparative genomic hybridization; heterogeneity; malignant lymphoma; patient outcome assessment; tumor cell population
5.  Gene expression profiling of Epstein–Barr virus-positive diffuse large B-cell lymphoma of the elderly reveals alterations of characteristic oncogenetic pathways 
Cancer Science  2014;105(5):537-544.
Epstein–Barr virus (EBV)-positive diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) of the elderly (EBV[+]DLBCL-E) is classified as a subtype of DLBCL. Until now, its molecular pathogenesis has remained unknown. To identify pathways characteristic of EBV(+)DLBCL-E, gene expression profiling of five EBV(+)DLBCL-E and seven EBV-negative DLBCL (EBV[−]DLBCL) cases was undertaken using human oligonucleotide microarray analysis. Gene set enrichment analysis and gene ontology analysis showed that gene sets of the Janus kinase-signal transducer and activator of transcription (JAK-STAT) and nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) pathways were enriched in EBV(+)DLBCL-E cases. To confirm the results of the expression profiles, in vitro analysis was performed. Expression profiling analysis showed that high activation of the JAK-STAT and NF-κB pathways was induced by EBV infection into DLBCL cell lines. Activation of the NF-κB pathway was confirmed in EBV-infected cell lines using an electrophoretic mobility shift assay. Western blot analysis revealed an increased protein expression level of phosphorylated signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) in an EBV-infected cell line. Protein expression of phosphorylated STAT3 was frequently observed in lymphoma cells of EBV(+)DLBCL-E clinical samples using immunohistochemistry (EBV[+]DLBCL-E: 80.0% [n = 20/25] versus EBV[−]DLBCL: 38.9% [n = 14/36]; P = 0.001). The results of the present study suggest that activation of the JAK-STAT and NF-κB pathways was characteristic of EBV(+)DLBCL-E, which may reflect the nature of EBV-positive tumor cells. Targeting these pathways as therapies might improve clinical outcomes of EBV(+)DLBCL-E.
PMCID: PMC4317839  PMID: 24581222
Epstein–Barr virus; gene expression profiling; lymphoma; NF-κB; STAT3
6.  Functionally Deregulated AML1/RUNX1 Cooperates with BCR-ABL to Induce a Blastic Phase-Like Phenotype of Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e74864.
Patients in the chronic phase (CP) of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) have been treated successfully following the advent of ABL kinase inhibitors, but once they progress to the blast crisis (BC) phase the prognosis becomes dismal. Although mechanisms underlying the progression are largely unknown, recent studies revealed the presence of alterations of key molecules for hematopoiesis, such as AML1/RUNX1. Our analysis of 13 BC cases revealed that three cases had AML1 mutations and the transcript levels of wild-type (wt.) AML1 were elevated in BC compared with CP. Functional analysis of representative AML1 mutants using mouse hematopoietic cells revealed the possible contribution of some, but not all, mutants for the BC-phenotype. Specifically, K83Q and R139G, but neither R80C nor D171N mutants, conferred upon BCR-ABL-expressing cells a growth advantage over BCR-ABL-alone control cells in cytokine-free culture, and the cells thus grown killed mice upon intravenous transfer. Unexpectedly, wt.AML1 behaved similarly to K83Q and R139G mutants. In a bone marrow transplantation assay, K83Q and wt.AML1s induced the emergence of blast-like cells. The overall findings suggest the roles of altered functions of AML1 imposed by some, but not all, mutants, and the elevated expression of wt.AML1 for the disease progression of CML.
PMCID: PMC3787010  PMID: 24098673
7.  Identification of multiple subclones in peripheral T-cell lymphoma, not otherwise specified with genomic aberrations 
Cancer Medicine  2012;1(3):289-294.
Peripheral T-cell lymphoma, not otherwise specified (PTCL, NOS) with genomic aberrations has been shown to resemble lymphoma-type adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATLL) in terms of its genomic aberration patterns, histopathology, and prognosis. We have shown recently that a majority of patients with acute-type ATLL have multiple subclones that were likely produced in lymph nodes. In this study, we analyzed whether PTCL, NOS with genomic aberrations also has multiple subclones as found in ATLL by means of high-resolution oligo-array comparative genomic hybridization (CGH). Thirteen cases of PTCL, NOS were available for 44K high-resolution array CGH analysis. The results showed that 11 (84.6%) of the 13 cases had a log2 ratio imbalance, suggesting that multiple subclones exist in PTCL, NOS with genomic aberrations. In order to analyze the association between multiple subclones and prognosis, we used previous bacterial-artificial chromosome (BAC) array analyses for 29 cases and found that the existence of multiple subclones was associated with a poor prognosis (P = 0.0279).
PMCID: PMC3544466  PMID: 23342278
Multiple subclones, not otherwise specified; oligo-array comparative genomic hybridization; peripheral T-cell lymphoma
8.  Mutation analysis of NF-κB signal pathway-related genes in ocular MALT lymphoma 
Constitutive nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) activation has been reported in ocular adnexal lymphoma (OAL). TNFAIP3/A20 is a “global” inhibitor of NF-κB pathway. We have shown that OAL has preferential loss of the 6q23.3 region where TNFAIP3/A20 exist, which is suggested to involve in lymphomagenesis of OAL. The mechanisms causing NF-κB activity in OAL remain elusive. Recently, NF-κB canonical pathway genes including CARD11, CD79B and MYD88 were shown to be frequently mutated in diffuse large B-cell lymphomas. In this study, we analyzed the mutation status of these genes by direct sequencing in 24 OAL cases including 9 cases with loss of 6q23.3 previously identified by array comparative genomic hybridization. We showed that genetic alterations of these genes were not found in OAL, a finding differing from that of most B-cell lymphomas. Genetic or epigenetic alterations in other genes are likely to be relevant in pathogenesis of OAL case without A20 loss.
PMCID: PMC3396059  PMID: 22808296
Ocular adnexal lymphoma; TNFAIP3 (A20) deletion; NF-κB related gene mutation
9.  The LRF transcription factor regulates mature B cell development and the germinal center response in mice 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2011;121(7):2583-2598.
B cells play a central role in immune system function. Deregulation of normal B cell maturation can lead to the development of autoimmune syndromes as well as B cell malignancies. Elucidation of the molecular features of normal B cell development is important for the development of new target therapies for autoimmune diseases and B cell malignancies. Employing B cell–specific conditional knockout mice, we have demonstrated here that the transcription factor leukemia/lymphoma-related factor (LRF) forms an obligate dimer in B cells and regulates mature B cell lineage fate and humoral immune responses via distinctive mechanisms. Moreover, LRF inactivation in transformed B cells attenuated their growth rate. These studies identify what we believe to be a new key factor for mature B cell development and provide a rationale for targeting LRF dimers for the treatment of autoimmune diseases and B cell malignancies.
PMCID: PMC3223838  PMID: 21646720
10.  Isoform-Specific Potentiation of Stem and Progenitor Cell Engraftment by AML1/RUNX1  
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(5):e172.
AML1/RUNX1 is the most frequently mutated gene in leukaemia and is central to the normal biology of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells. However, the role of different AML1 isoforms within these primitive compartments is unclear. Here we investigate whether altering relative expression of AML1 isoforms impacts the balance between cell self-renewal and differentiation in vitro and in vivo.
Methods and Findings
The human AML1a isoform encodes a truncated molecule with DNA-binding but no transactivation capacity. We used a retrovirus-based approach to transduce AML1a into primitive haematopoietic cells isolated from the mouse. We observed that enforced AML1a expression increased the competitive engraftment potential of murine long-term reconstituting stem cells with the proportion of AML1a-expressing cells increasing over time in both primary and secondary recipients. Furthermore, AML1a expression dramatically increased primitive and committed progenitor activity in engrafted animals as assessed by long-term culture, cobblestone formation, and colony assays. In contrast, expression of the full-length isoform AML1b abrogated engraftment potential. In vitro, AML1b promoted differentiation while AML1a promoted proliferation of progenitors capable of short-term lymphomyeloid engraftment. Consistent with these findings, the relative abundance of AML1a was highest in the primitive stem/progenitor compartment of human cord blood, and forced expression of AML1a in these cells enhanced maintenance of primitive potential both in vitro and in vivo.
These data demonstrate that the “a” isoform of AML1 has the capacity to potentiate stem and progenitor cell engraftment, both of which are required for successful clinical transplantation. This activity is consistent with its expression pattern in both normal and leukaemic cells. Manipulating the balance of AML1 isoform expression may offer novel therapeutic strategies, exploitable in the contexts of leukaemia and also in cord blood transplantation in adults, in whom stem and progenitor cell numbers are often limiting.
The truncated "a" isoform of AML1 is shown to have the capacity to potentiate stem and progenitor cell engraftment, both of which are required for successful clinical transplantation.
Editors' Summary
Blood contains red blood cells (which carry oxygen round the body), platelets (which help the blood to clot), and white blood cells (which fight off infections). All these cells, which are regularly replaced, are derived from hematopoietic stem cells, blood-forming cells present in the bone marrow. Like all stem cells, hematopoietic stem cells self-renew (reproduce themselves) and produce committed progenitor cells, which develop into mature blood cells in a process called hematopoiesis. Many proteins control hematopoiesis, some of which are called transcription factors; these factors bind to DNA through their DNA-binding domain and then control the expression of genes (that is, how DNA is turned into proteins) through particular parts of the protein (their transcription regulatory domains). An important hematopoietic transcription factor is AML1—a protein first identified because of its involvement in acute myelogenous leukemia (AML, a form of blood cancer). Mutations (changes) in the AML1 gene are now known to be present in other types of leukemia, which are often characterized by overproliferation of immature blood cells.
Why Was This Study Done?
Because of AML1′s crucial role in hematopoiesis, knowing more about which genes it regulates and how its activity is regulated could provide clues to treating leukemia and to improving hematopoietic cell transplantation. Many cancer treatments destroy hematopoietic stem cells, leaving patients vulnerable to infection. Transplants of bone marrow or cord blood (the cord that links mother and baby during pregnancy contains peripheral blood stem cells) can replace the missing cells, but cord blood in particular often contains insufficient stem cells for successful transplantation. It would be useful, therefore, to expand the stem cell content of these tissues before transplantation. In this study, the researchers investigated the effect of AML1 on self-renewal and differentiation of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells in the laboratory (in vitro) and in animals (in vivo). In particular, they have asked how two isoforms (closely related versions) of AML1 affect the ability of these cells to grow and differentiate (engraft) in mice after transplantation.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers artificially expressed AML1a and AML1b (both isoforms contain a DNA binding domain, but only AML1b has transcription regulatory domains) in mouse hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells and then tested the cells' ability to engraft in mice. AML1a-expressing cells engrafted better than unaltered cells and outgrew unaltered cells when transplanted as a mixture. AML1b-expressing cells, however, did not engraft. In vitro, AML1a-expressing cells grew more than AML1b-expressing cells, whereas differentiation was promoted in AML1b-expressing cells. To investigate whether the isoforms have the same effects in human cells, the researchers measured the amount of AML1a and AML1b mRNA (the template for protein production) made by progenitor cells in human cord blood. Although AML1b (together with AML1c, an isoform with similar characteristics) mRNA predominated in all the progenitor cell types, the relative abundance of AML1a was greatest in the stem and progenitor cells. Furthermore, forced expression of AML1a in these cells improved their ability to divide in vitro and to engraft in mice.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that AML1a expression increases the self-renewal capacity of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells and consequently improves their ability to engraft in mice, whereas AML1b expression encourages the differentiation of these cell types. These activities are consistent with the expression patterns of the two isoforms in normal hematopoietic cells and in leukemic cells—the mutated AML made by many leukemic cells resembles AML1a. Because the AML1 isoforms were expressed at higher than normal levels in these experiments, the physiological relevance of these findings needs to be confirmed by showing that normal levels of AML1a and AML1b produce similar results. Nevertheless, these results suggest that manipulating the balance of AML1 isoforms made by hematopoietic cells might be useful clinically. In leukemia, a shift toward AML1b expression might slow the proliferation of leukemic cells and encourage their differentiation. Conversely, in cord blood transplantation, a shift toward AML1a expression might improve patient outcomes by expanding the stem and progenitor cell populations.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Wikipedia has pages on hematopoiesis and hematopoietic stem cells (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
The US National Cancer Institute has a fact sheet on bone marrow and peripheral blood stem cell transplantation (in English and Spanish) and information for patients and professionals on leukemia (in English)
The American Society of Hematology provides patient information about blood diseases, including information on bone marrow and stem cell transplantation
PMCID: PMC1868041  PMID: 17503961
11.  Cross Talk between Retinoic Acid Signaling and Transcription Factor GATA-2 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2004;24(15):6824-6836.
All-trans-retinoic acid (RA) stimulates differentiation of normal hematopoietic progenitors and acute myeloid leukemia cells. GATA-2 is a transcription factor expressed in early progenitor cells and implicated in the control of the fate of hematopoietic stem cells and progenitor cells. We have investigated the possibility that the GATA and nuclear hormone receptor pathways are functionally linked through direct protein-protein interaction. Here we demonstrate that in human myeloid KG1 cells, RA receptor alpha (RARα), the major RAR expressed in hematopoietic cells, associates with GATA-2. This association is mediated by the zinc fingers of GATA-2 and the DNA-binding domain of RARα. As a consequence of this interaction, RARα is tethered to the DNA sites that are recognized and bound by GATA-2, and the transcriptional activity of GATA-2 becomes RA responsive. The RA responsiveness of GATA-dependent transcription is eliminated by expression of either a dominant negative form of RARα or a GATA-2 mutant that fails to interact with RARα. Overexpression of RXRα inhibits RARα binding to the GATA-2-DNA complex, thus resulting in attenuation of the effects of RARα on GATA-2 activity. In addition, inhibition by RA of GATA-2-dependent hematopoietic colony formation in an embryonic stem cell model of hematopoietic differentiation provided biological evidence for functional cross talk between RA and GATA-2-dependent pathways.
PMCID: PMC444844  PMID: 15254248
12.  Potentiation of GATA-2 Activity through Interactions with the Promyelocytic Leukemia Protein (PML) and the t(15;17)-Generated PML-Retinoic Acid Receptor α Oncoprotein 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2000;20(17):6276-6286.
The hematopoietically expressed GATA family of transcription factors function as key regulators of blood cell fate. Among these, GATA-2 is implicated in the survival and growth of multipotential progenitors. Here we report that the promyelocytic leukemia protein (PML) can complex with GATA-2 and potentiate its transactivation capacity. The binding is mediated through interaction of the zinc finger region of GATA-2 and the B-box domain of PML. The B-box region of PML is retained in the PML-RARα (retinoic acid receptor alpha) fusion protein generated by the t(15;17) translocation characteristic of acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL). Consistent with this, we provide evidence that GATA-2 can physically associate with PML-RARα. Functional experiments further demonstrated that this interaction has the capacity to render GATA-dependent transcription inducible by retinoic acid, raising the possibility that GATA target genes may be involved in the molecular pathogenesis of APL.
PMCID: PMC86102  PMID: 10938104

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