Chromosome translocations are among the most common genetic abnormalities in human leukemia. Their abnormally expressed genes identify specific markers for their clinical diagnosis. Important biological properties are often conserved across species. However, although genetically engineered mouse leukemia models are well-established, few systematic studies have validated the genes that exhibit similar abnormal expression patterns in both human and mouse leukemia models. MLL-ELL and MLL-ENL fusion genes resulting from t(11;19)(q23;p13.1) and t(11;19)(q23;p13.3), respectively, are frequently involved in human acute leukemia, and in retrovirus-mediated mouse leukemia models. We used the SAGE technique to compare gene expression profiles between MLL-ELL or MLL-ENL myeloid leukemia progenitor cells and normal myeloid progenitor cells in both human and mouse. We analyzed four patient samples (two with each fusion) and two retrovirally-induced mouse leukemias containing either MLL-ELL or MLL-ENL fusions, and a leukemia cell line with an MLL-ELL fusion. 484,303 SAGE tags were identified from the nine samples, yielding 103,899 unique tags in human and 60,993 in mouse samples. We identified 40 candidate genes that appear to be abnormally expressed in both human and murine MLL-ELL leukemias (2 up- and 38 down-regulated), and 72 in both human and murine MLL-ENL leukemias (23 up and 49 down). 25 candidate genes are down-regulated in both types of leukemias, and many of them can bind with and/or regulate other candidate genes in the candidate list. For example, LCN2 can bind directly with and positively regulate MMP9; MMP9 and TMSB4X may positively regulate FOS; FOS and JUNB can bind directly and positively regulate each other. JUNB may inhibit proliferation and promote apoptosis, and it was reported that inactivation of JunB in LT-HSC leads to MPD while its inactivation in committed myeloid progenitors also predisposes to leukemia evolution. LCN2 may also positively regulate apoptosis. Meanwhile, some important candidate genes are observed only in one type of leukemia. For example, both PXN and ARHGEF1 are down-regulated only in MLL-ELL leukemias. PXN can bind directly with ARHGEF1, and the latter may inhibit proliferation. Similarly, MYB is significantly upregulated only in MLL-ENL leukemias, which was reported to play a role in MLL-ENL-mediated transformation. Taken together, some common pathways may exist in the development of both types of leukemias, whereas each may also have their own pathway. The deregulation of the important candidate genes may contribute to leukemogenesis through inhibiting apoptosis while promoting proliferation of hematopoietic cells. We have validated the expression patterns of the candidate genes, and are studying the functions and pathways of the validated candidate genes. Our studies will provide important insights into the complex functional pathways related to MLL rearrangements in the development of acute myeloid leukemia, which may lead to more effective therapy for these leukemias.

Disclosure: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

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