The t(12;21) chromosome translocation generating TEL-AML1 chimeric fusion gene is a frequent initiating event in childhood leukaemia. Its impact is to generate a clone of covert, clinically silent pre-leukemic B cell progenitors. The leukemia arises only following second, post-natal hit/genetic events occurring years later. Moreover, relapse of leukemia is frequently arising from the pre-leukemic clone.
of our study is to investigate how TEL-AML1 expression can sustain this covert condition for many years. In a recent paper we described that the fusion gene rendered the B precursors resistant to the inhibitory activity of TGFbeta. Here we want to inquire into other factors that can explain the positive selection of the pre-leukemic clones over the normal counterpart. In particular, given the importance of the interaction with the microenvironment for survival signals for normal and leukemic stem cells, we question if the fusion gene causes changes in cellular adhesive and migratory properties.
the study was performed by using two different models: i) a TEL-AML1 inducible expression system on the murine pro-B Ba/F3 cell line and ii) murine primary B lymphocytes (pre-BI cells) isolated from fetal liver, stably transduced with the pMIGR1-TEL-AML1-IRES-GFP construct. Gene expression assays were performed by using TaqMan (Applied Biosystems) and PCR Array technologies (SABioscences).
The expression of TEL-AML1 in Ba/F3 cell line causes over-expression of genes regulators of the cytoskeleton, specifically involved in cellular movement and in the regulation of actin dynamics. This gene expression alteration results in changes in the cellular morphology and phenotype: the cells acquire long extensions and several molecules involved in cell adhesion and migration are disregulated. Moreover, the TEL-AML1 positive cells present an increased ability to adhere to the ICAM1 substrate, but they also show a significant defect in the chemotactic response to CXCL12 in transwell migration assays in vitro, although the expression and the recycling of CXCR4 receptor are unaffected. This inability is not due to defects to migrate in general, as spontaneous motility is enhanced, but it is associated with a defect in CXCR4 signaling. In particular, CXCL12 calcium flux and ERK phosphorylation were inhibited. Those results have been confirmed in murine PreBI primary cells.
in our murine models, TEL-AML1 affects the cytoscheleton regulation and causes alteration in cellular adhesive and migratory properties. We are now investigating how these alterations can give advantages to the pre-leukemic cells in the pathogenesis of TEL-AML1–expressing leukemia.
No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.
Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.