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1.  Establishing optimal quantitative-polymerase chain reaction assays for routine diagnosis and tracking of minimal residual disease in JAK2-V617F-associated myeloproliferative neoplasms: a joint European LeukemiaNet/MPN&MPNr-EuroNet (COST action BM0902) study 
Leukemia  2013;27(10):2032-2039.
Reliable detection of JAK2-V617F is critical for accurate diagnosis of myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs); in addition, sensitive mutation-specific assays can be applied to monitor disease response. However, there has been no consistent approach to JAK2-V617F detection, with assays varying markedly in performance, affecting clinical utility. Therefore, we established a network of 12 laboratories from seven countries to systematically evaluate nine different DNA-based quantitative PCR (qPCR) assays, including those in widespread clinical use. Seven quality control rounds involving over 21 500 qPCR reactions were undertaken using centrally distributed cell line dilutions and plasmid controls. The two best-performing assays were tested on normal blood samples (n=100) to evaluate assay specificity, followed by analysis of serial samples from 28 patients transplanted for JAK2-V617F-positive disease. The most sensitive assay, which performed consistently across a range of qPCR platforms, predicted outcome following transplant, with the mutant allele detected a median of 22 weeks (range 6–85 weeks) before relapse. Four of seven patients achieved molecular remission following donor lymphocyte infusion, indicative of a graft vs MPN effect. This study has established a robust, reliable assay for sensitive JAK2-V617F detection, suitable for assessing response in clinical trials, predicting outcome and guiding management of patients undergoing allogeneic transplant.
PMCID: PMC3806250  PMID: 23860450
JAK2-V617F; qPCR standardization; MRD
3.  New Role for Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor-Induced Extracellular Signal-Regulated Kinase 1/2 in Histone Modification and Retinoic Acid Receptor α Recruitment to Gene Promoters: Relevance to Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia Cell Differentiation ▿ 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2011;31(7):1409-1418.
The induction of the granulocytic differentiation of leukemic cells by all-trans retinoic acid (RA) has been a major breakthrough in terms of survival for acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) patients. Here we highlight the synergism and the underlying novel mechanism between RA and the granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF) to restore differentiation of RA-refractory APL blasts. First, we show that in RA-refractory APL cells (UF-1 cell line), PML-RA receptor alpha (RARα) is not released from target promoters in response to RA, resulting in the maintenance of chromatin repression. Consequently, RARα cannot be recruited, and the RA target genes are not activated. We then deciphered how the combination of G-CSF and RA successfully restored the activation of RA target genes to levels achieved in RA-sensitive APL cells. We demonstrate that G-CSF restores RARα recruitment to target gene promoters through the activation of the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)/mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway and the subsequent derepression of chromatin. Thus, combinatorial activation of cytokines and RARs potentiates transcriptional activity through epigenetic modifications induced by specific signaling pathways.
PMCID: PMC3135284  PMID: 21262770
4.  CD44 targeting reduces tumour growth and prevents post-chemotherapy relapse of human breast cancers xenografts 
British Journal of Cancer  2009;100(6):918-922.
CD44 is a marker of tumour-initiating cells and is upregulated in invasive breast carcinoma; however, its role in the cancer progression is unknown. Here, we show that antibody-mediated CD44-targeting in human breast cancer xenografts (HBCx) significantly reduces tumour growth and that this effect is associated to induction of growth-inhibiting factors. Moreover, treatment with this antibody prevents tumour relapse after chemotherapy-induced remission in a basal-like HBCx.
PMCID: PMC2661796  PMID: 19240712
breast cancer; CD44; xenografts
5.  All-trans retinoic acid modulates the retinoic acid receptor-alpha in promyelocytic cells. 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1991;88(6):2150-2154.
We have recently demonstrated that all-trans retinoic acid (RA), the active metabolite of vitamin A, is an efficient alternative to chemotherapy in the treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia (AML3). We have further shown that, in these AML3 cells, the gene of the retinoic acid receptor-alpha (RAR alpha) is translocated from chromosome 17 to chromosome 15, and fused to a new gene, PLM. This results in the expression of both normal and chimeric RAR alpha transcripts in AML3 cells. The PLM-RAR alpha protein may account for the impairment of differentiation and thus leukemogenesis, but not for the paradoxical efficacy of RA in these cells. In an attempt to elucidate RA's differentiative effect in AML3 patients, the present work examined the in vitro and in vivo modulation of the normal RAR alpha transcripts by all-trans RA in seven cases of AML3. In all samples, Northern blot analysis revealed a low expression of the two normal RAR alpha transcripts compared with other human myeloid leukemic cells. No modulation was observed after 4-8 d of in vivo therapy with all-trans RA 45 mg/m2 per d. In vitro incubation with all-trans RA, however, increased the level of expression of the normal RAR alpha transcripts in AML3 cells but not in other AML leukemic subtypes. This modulation of the two normal RAR alpha transcripts appeared to be an early and primary event of RA's differentiating effect. We therefore suggest that up-regulation of the normal RAR alpha gene expression by pharmacological concentrations of all-trans RA may restore the normal differentiation pathway in these cells.
PMCID: PMC295826  PMID: 1661301

Results 1-5 (5)