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1.  Transient expression of Bcl6 is sufficient for oncogenic function and induction of mature B-cell lymphoma 
Nature communications  2014;5:3904.
Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) is the most common lymphoma and can be separated into two subtypes based upon molecular features with similarities to germinal center B-cells (GCB-like) or activated B-cells (ABC-like). Here we identify gain of 3q27.2 as being significantly associated with adverse outcome in DLBCL and linked with the ABC-like subtype. This lesion includes the BCL6 oncogene, but does not alter BCL6 transcript levels or target-gene repression. Separately, we identify expression of BCL6 in a subset of human hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells (HSPCs). We therefore hypothesize that BCL6 may act by hit-and-run oncogenesis. We model this by transiently expressing Bcl6 within murine HSPCs, and find it causes mature B-cell lymphomas that lack Bcl6 expression and target-gene repression, are transcriptionally similar to post-GCB cells, and show epigenetic changes that are conserved from HSPCs to mature B-cells. Together these results suggest that Bcl6 may function in a hit-and-run role in lymphomagenesis.
PMCID: PMC4321731  PMID: 24887457
2.  Germinal centre protein HGAL promotes lymphoid hyperplasia and amyloidosis via BCR-mediated Syk activation 
Nature communications  2013;4:1338.
The human germinal centre associated lymphoma (HGAL) gene is specifically expressed in germinal centre B-lymphocytes and germinal centre-derived B-cell lymphomas, but its function is largely unknown. Here we demonstrate that HGAL directly binds Syk in B-cells, increases its kinase activity upon B-cell receptor stimulation and leads to enhanced activation of Syk downstream effectors. To further investigate these findings in vivo, HGAL transgenic mice were generated. Starting from 12 months of age these mice developed polyclonal B-cell lymphoid hyperplasia, hypergammaglobulinemia and systemic reactive AA amyloidosis, leading to shortened survival. The lymphoid hyperplasia in the HGAL transgenic mice are likely attributable to enhanced B-cell receptor signalling as shown by increased Syk phosphorylation, ex vivo B-cell proliferation and increased RhoA activation. Overall, our study shows for the first time that the germinal centre protein HGAL regulates B-cell receptor signalling in B-lymphocytes which, without appropriate control, may lead to B-cell lymphoproliferation.
PMCID: PMC3545406  PMID: 23299888
HGAL; BCR signaling; Syk; lymphoid hyperplasia; amyloidosis
3.  Acute lymphoblastic leukemia and developmental biology 
Cell Cycle  2011;10(20):3473-3486.
The latest scientific findings in the field of cancer research are redefining our understanding of the molecular and cellular basis of the disease, moving the emphasis toward the study of the mechanisms underlying the alteration of the normal processes of cellular differentiation. The concepts best exemplifying this new vision are those of cancer stem cells and tumoral reprogramming. The study of the biology of acute lymphoblastic leukemias (ALLs) has provided seminal experimental evidence supporting these new points of view. Furthermore, in the case of B cells, it has been shown that all the stages of their normal development show a tremendous degree of plasticity, allowing them to be reprogrammed to other cellular types, either normal or leukemic. Here we revise the most recent discoveries in the fields of B-cell developmental plasticity and B-ALL research and discuss their interrelationships and their implications for our understanding of the biology of the disease.
PMCID: PMC3266177  PMID: 22031225
leukemia; hematopoietic development; leukemic stem cells; lymphopoiesis; developmental plasticity; B cells; stem cells; cancer; B-ALL
4.  The cellular architecture of multiple myeloma 
Cell Cycle  2012;11(20):3715-3717.
PMCID: PMC3495807  PMID: 22983005
MafB; cancer cell of origin; cancer stem cell and tumor reprogramming; cancer; mouse models; multiple myeloma; stem cells; target cell
5.  A novel molecular mechanism involved in multiple myeloma development revealed by targeting MafB to haematopoietic progenitors 
The EMBO Journal  2012;31(18):3704-3717.
Transgenic expression of the MafB oncogene in haematopoietic stem/progenitor cells induces plasma cell neoplasia reminiscent of human multiple myeloma and suggests DNA methylation as cause of malignant transformation.
Understanding the cellular origin of cancer can help to improve disease prevention and therapeutics. Human plasma cell neoplasias are thought to develop from either differentiated B cells or plasma cells. However, when the expression of Maf oncogenes (associated to human plasma cell neoplasias) is targeted to mouse B cells, the resulting animals fail to reproduce the human disease. Here, to explore early cellular changes that might take place in the development of plasma cell neoplasias, we engineered transgenic mice to express MafB in haematopoietic stem/progenitor cells (HS/PCs). Unexpectedly, we show that plasma cell neoplasias arise in the MafB-transgenic mice. Beyond their clinical resemblance to human disease, these neoplasias highly express genes that are known to be upregulated in human multiple myeloma. Moreover, gene expression profiling revealed that MafB-expressing HS/PCs were more similar to B cells and tumour plasma cells than to any other subset, including wild-type HS/PCs. Consistent with this, genome-scale DNA methylation profiling revealed that MafB imposes an epigenetic program in HS/PCs, and that this program is preserved in mature B cells of MafB-transgenic mice, demonstrating a novel molecular mechanism involved in tumour initiation. Our findings suggest that, mechanistically, the haematopoietic progenitor population can be the target for transformation in MafB-associated plasma cell neoplasias.
PMCID: PMC3442275  PMID: 22903061
cancer therapy; MafB; multiple myeloma mouse model; oncogenes; reprogramming stem cells
6.  Essential role for telomerase in chronic myeloid leukemia induced by BCR-ABL in mice 
Oncotarget  2012;3(3):261-266.
The telomerase protein is constitutively activated in malignant cells from many patients with cancer, including the chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), but whether telomerase is essential for the pathogenesis of this disease is not known. Here, we used telomerase deficient mice to determine the requirement for telomerase in CML induced by BCR-ABL in mouse models of CML. Loss of one telomerase allele or complete deletion of telomerase prevented the development of leukemia induced by BCR-ABL. However, BCR-ABL was expressed and active in telomerase heterozygous and null leukemic hematopoietic stem cells. These results demonstrate that telomerase is essential for oncogene-induced reprogramming of hematopoietic stem cells in CML development and validate telomerase and the genes it regulates as targets for therapy in CML.
PMCID: PMC3359883  PMID: 22408137
cancer; cancer stem cells (CSC); stem cells; mouse models; Telomerase inhibitors; drug discovery

Results 1-6 (6)